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The events surrounding the Palatine killings
Daily Herald Staff Report
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Published: 8/4/2009 5:03 PM | Updated: 8/4/2009 9:53 PM

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Originally published Jan. 17, 1993


"They don't tell us anything. We don't know If he's alive or dead or anything." - Maria Maldonado, standing outside the restaurant Saturday morning, waiting to learn the fate of her uncle, Brown's cook Guadalupe Maldonado.

• The parents of 16-year-old Michael Castro notify police that their son has not come home. Police also meet briefly with Pedro Maldonado, who has come to the darkened Brown's Chicken & Pasta restaurant on Northwest Highway, in Palatine, to look for his brother, Guadalupe.

• 2:30 a.m. with Emmanuel Castro standing behind them, police find an unlocked door and enter the darkened restaurant, discovering the seven bodies.

• The victims had been shot, several had been shot multiple times, and Lynn Ehlenfeldt's throat was slashed.

• About 3 p.m. with guns drawn, police pick up fired cook Martin E. Blake, 23, at his Elgin house, and hold him for questioning.

• 9 p.m. police announce the identities of the victims as store owners Richard and Lynn Ehlenfeldt, and employees Michael Castro, Guadalupe Maldonado, Thomas Mennes, Marcus Nellsen and Rico Soils.


"There's no place to run to. (Suburbanites) can't run back to the cities. This kind of thing can happen anywhere. There is no place in the country that's safe if Palatine is not safe." -Urbanologist Pierre DeVise.

• Counseling begins at Palatine High School, and Mayor Rita Mullins announces the formation of "Palatine Cares," a memorial fund to help the victims' families.

• In Sunday services, pastors throughout the area struggle to comfort their congregations.

• Police scour the crime scene for clues, including garbage bins and the roof.

• Police get search warrant for Martin Blake's house, come out carrying bags of unidentified evidence, including a gun.

• Police continue to question Blake.


"Yes, there is a killer still on the loose. The businesses ought to take extra precautions. The police department is taking extra precautions - there is no doubt about it, there is a murderer or murderers on the loose." -Cook County State's Attorney Jack O'Malley

• Martin Blake's lawyer, Dennis Born, challenges police to either charge Blake or release him and threatens to go to a judge.

• At about 1:30 p.m., Martin Blake is released by police, who say they have no reason to hold him.

• At 3:30 p.m., Cook County Stale's Attorney Jack O'Malley says police have no one in custody and it would be wise for residents to take precautions.

• 50 restaurant managers meet with police, village officials and chamber of commerce representatives to discuss security.


"Had the policeman who came there checked the doors - maybe there were people still breathing and we could do something and save them." - Emmanuel Castro, Michael's father

• The parents of Michael Castro criticize Palatine police as being unresponsive Friday night, saying they first contacted police hours before an officer went to the scene to check all the doors.

• Police say they have no record of hearing from the Castros until about 1 a.m.

• Palatine police send out a Law Enforcement Agency Data System bulletin about the murders to police departments statewide.

• It is learned that Blake's, gun has been ruled out as the murder weapon.

• Police announce the FBI has entered the case.

• Services are held for Lynn and Dick Ehlenfeldt and Guadalupe Maldonado.


"Mass murders are committed for specific reason, for example, to get back at someone. (But) if profit were the motive, there's no psychological profile because (the killers) were motivated by greed." - James Alan Fox, criminologist at Northeastern University

• More details emerge: Police are now looking for multiple killers, who used .38-caliber guns; it is revealed that the restaurant was cleaned up "spotlessly" before the killers left.

• Police announce that two Chicago police officers have joined the investigation. They also say they are looking for any connection to recent armed robberies in Des Plaines, Arlington Heights and Mundelein; or to the attempted murder of an Addison gas station attendant.

• A witness in a nearby apartment comes forward to say he heard a gunshot between 9:30 and 9.45 p.m. Friday night.

• Services are held for Marcus Nellsen and Michael Castro.

• Businesses continue to deluge police with questions on their own security. At least 1,000 calls have come into the police hotline so far.


"I certainly hope someone isn't waiting for an invitation to give us information." - Palatine Deputy Chief Walt Gasior, reacting to criticism that the Palatine police was slow in interviewing those who live or work near the restaurant.

• Police are criticized for not interviewing residents and store clerks in the immediate area near Brown's Chicken until days after the murders.

• The 30-member investigative task force moves into headquarters at former elementary school property.

• Thomas Mennes is buried.

• Police meet with Fremd students to discuss security on the jobs.

• Three daughters of Lynn and Dick Ehlenfeldt express confidence in the police investigation. They also say they hope the restaurant will eventually reopen.

• At 6 p.m., about 200 residents attend an interfaith memorial service at Cutting Hall, in Palatine.


"I know they had nothing to do with the murders. I know them pretty well." - Nikki Buster, 15, a neighbor of some of the six people brought in for questioning Friday.

• Six people - three men, three women - are rounded up by Palatine police for questioning. Police later release five of them, but charge the sixth, 17-year-old Rashaad Brooks, with robbing a Rolling Meadows store in November.

• Attorney for Martin Blake, who was in court on an unrelated reckless driving charge, said Blake had an "ironclad" alibi and is attempting to regain what was taken from his home during the police search.

• Police hold session with students at Palatine High School to discuss security procedures for their jobs.


"If they weren't ripped up on drugs, you've got someone who's a pretty coldblooded killer. It robbery Isn't the motive, then you've got someone killing for the thrill." - one suburban police veteran

• Palatine Police Chief Jerry Bratcher says the victims were gunned down "execution style," and confirms a lot of money was stolen.

• The last victim, Rico Solis, is buried at All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines.

• Police say they believe there are people with information who have not come forward.