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Team handles all the facets of mass murder investigation
By Catherine Edman | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/4/2009 5:03 PM | Updated: 8/4/2009 9:37 PM

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Originally published Jan. 12, 1993

As television sets were tuned to Monday afternoon's press conference on the Palatine murders, it was the face of Cook County State's Attorney Jack O'Malley that popped onto screens.

Most people would have preferred good news. Instead, it was O'Malley's job to tell the harsh news. The murderer, or murderers, was still on the loose.

While there are many important roles in a murder investigation, O'Malley and four other key figures - Jerry Bratcher, Walter Gasior, Tony Calabrese and Dr. Robert Stein - are at the forefront of the manhunt in Palatine.

O'Malley's role, however, will intensify after the arrest, when his office is responsible for the prosecution.

Much of the information from police is coming from the Palatine Deputy Chief Walt Gasior, who serves as department spokesman.

Gasior also plays a role as liaison between the police department and both the pastoral care services at Northwest Community Hospital and the victims' families. He provides the link through which they can receive information on the case.

At the helm of the investigation is the Palatine police chief, an 18-year veteran of that position. Jerry Bratcher was appointed police chief of the Palatine department in 1974 after serving in a similar role for the Rochelle, Ill., police department.

"He is really coordinating and directing the investigative task force," Gasior said.

In this case, that includes outside help from evidence technicians and investigators from larger departments with more expansive resources such as the Cook County sheriff's department.

Attending many of the briefings has been Tony Calabrese, a chief deputy with the Cook County State's Attorney's office. Calabrese, who has worked as a prosecutor with the office since 1981, supervises the entire criminal division of the state's attorney's office and watches over investigative groundwork that leads up to prosecution. He serves as a liaison between police and O'Malley's office, giving advice on the legal and judicial strength of cases.

Cook County Medical Examiner Dr. Robert Stein's main job is to determine the manner and time of death of the victims. Investigators from his office process evidence directly related to the victims' bodies and are responsible for transport of the bodies. Stein's team also will perform the autopsies.