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Village announces reward has reached $100,000 goal
By Diane Dungey | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/4/2009 5:03 PM | Updated: 8/4/2009 10:04 PM

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Originally published Jan. 26, 1993

Following a weeklong fund-raising blitz that included donations as high as $25,000 and from as far away as Florida, Palatine officials offered a $100,000 reward Monday for information that leads them to the murderers who killed seven restaurant workers.

Palatine police added extra staff to prepare for an onslaught of new telephone tips today as a result of publicity about the reward, although Deputy Police Chief Walt Gasior said there is no way to tell whether the reward will increase the chance of catching the killers.

The reward fund - boosted by a $25,000 donation from Brown's Chicken & Pasta - is in addition to a separate $70,000 fund the village has set up for the families of seven workers who were killed Jan. 8 at the Brown's Chicken & Pasta restaurant in Palatine. Numerous church, neighborhood and other funds also have been set up for the families or for memorials.

The village also is broadening its efforts, with Palatine Village President Rita Mullins announcing Monday that she is working with Illinois House Republican Leader Lee Daniels to draft legislation that would increase penalties for anyone who commits a crime with a gun.

"We ask all of your support in getting stronger laws," she said.

Mullins appeared at a news conference with Trustee Jack Wagner, who is heading the reward fund-raising effort, and Frank Portillo, president of Brown's Chicken & Pasta.

Mullins, whose horror at the crime led her to make a plea for stricter gun laws during a meeting of mayors last week in Washington, D.C., acknowledged that such a law might not have deterred the Palatine murderers, who could face the death penalty if they are caught. And, she said she does not favor a handgun ban.

"It is not taking guns away from good citizens. But for those criminals who are caught, we're looking for swifter and stiffer penalties," she said.

Mullins also supports the Brady bill, a federal effort that would require a waiting period before handgun purchases and a total ban on semiautomatic assault weapons.

The bill is named for former presidential press secretary James Brady, who was seriously wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt against former President Reagan.

A spokesman for Daniels, Scott Hamilton, said the proposal still is being researched, but a bill could be introduced as soon as the end of the week.

Among more than 100 donations to the reward fund were $15,000 from doctors at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, $10,000 from doctors at Holy Family Hospital in Des Plaines, $3,000 from a restaurant in Florida, $1,000 from an unidentified donor in Wisconsin, and many smaller gifts, such as $50 from a Palatine woman who operates a business in her home.

Area business owners, shaken by the thought they could have been victimized, were ready to give to the reward effort, said Wagner, a former Lincolnwood police officer.

"They were totally and completely outraged. It was like a personal affront to them," he said. "The people in the village of Palatine are not only concerned for their safety, but they feel compelled to come forward and assist with this effort."

Anyone with information about the crime can call the police at 705-1600.

A separate $7,000 reward posted by Cook County Crime Stoppers drew 16 telephone tips since the reward was publicized Friday on a billboard along Route 53 near Palatine, said Ron Hauri, chairman of the organization. The tips were forwarded to police, he said.

Mullins, Portillo and Palatine High School Principal Nancy Robb will meet today to discuss how to distribute $70,000 from the Palatine Cares Fund, Mullins said.

"We will probably do it equally among the victims' families," she said. However, that fund, like the reward fund, will remain open for additional donations, she said.

Donations to the reward fund can be sent to the village of Palatine, 200 E. Wood St., Palatine IL 60067. Donations to the victims' fund should be sent to the Palatine Cares Memorial Fund, Suburban National Bank of Palatine, 50 N. Brockway.

Meanwhile, a Saturday evening fund-raiser at Whitewater, a nightclub near the Brown's restaurant raised $6,500, said Chris Funk, an owner of the club.

Most of the money will be given to victims' families, although Funk said some might be reserved for a one-time scholarship for a student at Palatine High School, where two of the victims were students.