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New clues result in 65 fresh leads for Brown's task force
Amy Carr | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/29/2008 4:33 PM

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First published: January 10, 1996

Maybe it was the shoes. Perhaps it was the car. Or it could have simply been the hype surrounding the three-year anniversary of the Brown's Chicken murders. Whatever the reason, Palatine police said Tuesday that for the first time in months, the task force's phone is ringing steadily once again.

One day after releasing new information about the Jan. 8, 1993 murders of seven Brown's Chicken workers, the task force investigating the unsolved case collected at 65 new leads, Palatine Police Chief Jerry Bratcher said.

Whether any of the new leads will ultimately help police solve the grisly murders remains to be seen, but task force members on Tuesday were encouraged and rejuvenated by the new information.

"I think it's 65 more leads than we had otherwise, so I think it's good," Bratcher said. "And the phone's still ringing."

In the weeks and months following the murders, hundreds of new leads poured in daily to the regional police task force that once totaled 100 officers. The task force, which has investigated more than 4,000 leads, now has dwindled to seven officers and the number of calls has averaged about two a day for "quite some time," according to Cmdr. Jim Haider.

The new influx of calls began streaming in almost immediately after police held a press conference Monday revealing evidence never before released to the public.

New details included the belief that a lone killer 6 feet to 6-feet-6 committed the murders using a .38- or .357 caliber revolver. Police also said the killer was believed to have been wearing a new pair of size 12 to 14 Nike Air Force shoes and driving a white or light-colored late 1980s model Chevy Camaro.

Police would not comment on the content of any of the new leads, but said the task force began pursuing the tips immediately.

"Some of the calls have been very intriguing," Haider said. "Now it's all going to have to be prioritized."

Bratcher said he was pleased that many of the calls seem to be "sincere."

"Some of the stuff, we've got people out working on already," Bratcher said. "Initially, it looks like we've got some good information coming in."

The task force has had promising leads in the past, but further questioning and a lack of evidence has prevented police from making any arrests in the notorious case. Adding to the disappointment within the task force has been the increasing scrutiny from the public and Brown's President Frank Portillo Jr., who has charged that the task force has not done everything possible to solve the crime.