20 years after Brown's Chicken massacre, families still coping - FOX 32 News Chicago

20 years after Brown's Chicken massacre, families still coping

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

It's the 20th anniversary of one of the most gruesome crimes ever committed in Illinois. The Brown's Chicken massacre left seven people dead and remained unsolved for almost a decade.

The two Brown's Chicken killers are now serving life sentences. The fast food restaurant is long gone, but for victim's families, the memories of a January night two decades ago will never slip away.

That day was 20 years ago. Seven people were shot and killed in a robbery at the Brown's Chicken restaurant in Palatine, including its owners, Richard and Lynn Ehlenfeldt, and five full or part-time Brown's employees: Michael Castro, Marcus Nellson, Guadalupe Maldonado, Thomas Mennes and Rico Solis.

Epifania Castro, Michael Castro's mother, still prays every day at a shrine for Michael in her home and she had just visited the cemetery when FOX 32's Larry Yellen talked with her Tuesday.

"Today at the church, they know that it's Michael's anniversary, they said a prayer," Castro says. "So, we have a lot of supports and prayers. I think that's what keeps us going, the prayers."

A branch office for a bank is now located where the Brown's Chicken restaurant once stood. 9 years after the crime, police James Degorski and Juan Luna were charged with the murders, based on information provided by a former girlfriend of Degorski. Police said the two men spilt a chicken dinner just before closing time and then forced the seven victims into the restaurants coolers before killing them and stealing less than $2,000.

Luna was convicted in 2007, Degorski in 2009.

Joy Ehlenfeldt, who lost both her parents, says this 20th anniversary has been especially tough.

Joy has two sisters, one of them, Jennifer Shilling, is now a state senator in Wisconsin. She's been an advocate for victim's rights, and has also spoken to prison inmates about the effects of crime on families.

"I think it would be a travesty if I didn't use this to talk about the human side of this. About survivors," she said.

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