Illinois prosecutors tried unsuccessfully to postpone the parole of 76-year-old Chicago child killer Raymond Larsen, who ended up back in prison less than two months for failing to meet his parole, newly released records show.
Minutes of the April meeting of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board – when Larsen was granted parole – state that the attorney general tried to postpone that decision for 90 days to allow him to be classified as a possible “sexually violent person.”
Such a finding could have kept him in prison.
Larsen had told prosecutors in 1972 that he was “looking for something to shoot” when he fatally shot and killed 16-year-old Frank Casolari, who was fishing in the Schiller Woods Forest Preserve near O’Hare Airport.
But nearly five decades after the killing, Larsen’s attorney Mira de Jong told the board in April that the killing was not premeditated after all. She said Casolari told Larsen to turn off his radio “because it scares away the fish,” the teenager threatened to call the police when he refused, they argued, and Larsen shot him dead.
The boy’s naked body was discovered under branches and rubble in the forest. He had been shot 23 times.
De Jong told the board that Larsen had an abusive father who was a debt collector for the Chicago outfit, that Larsen learned how to hot wire and steal cars as a child, and was sent to juvenile detention at 13, grew with “a group of reckless youngsters Men who robbed and broke in to satisfy their own selfish desires ”.
De Jong said he had changed for the better in prison, converted to Buddhism, and would lead a “quiet life” if released on parole.
After years of denial, the board voted 9-3 on April 29 to release Larsen on parole.
Officials refused to say why Larsen was paroled and repeatedly delayed the publication of the minutes of the April meeting, which included Chairman Craig Findley and members Max Cerda, Edith Crigler, Lisa Daniels, Oreal James, Virginia Martinez, Aurthur May Perkins, Drella Savage, and Eleanor Wilson voted to parole him. Jeff Mears, Donald Shelton, and Joseph Ruggerio, a former DuPage County attorney, voted no.
Larsen last put himself on parole in 2018 when the board voted 12-0 to keep him in prison. Board member Salvador Diaz said at the time: “There is something about inmate Larsen that makes him a gunman, and he could be at high risk of committing another offense.”
Upon his release, Larsen moved to a halfway house in West Pullman and was instructed to keep in touch with his probation officer. But the Illinois Department of Corrections issued a warrant for his arrest on May 15 after parole officers lost contact with him. He was found on May 19th and sent back to the Halfway House.
But he disappeared again on May 20th. On May 28th, the Chicago police arrested him on the North Side. He rode a greyhound bus to Cincinnati without permission to visit a woman, officials said, but since he couldn’t see her, he returned to Chicago.
In late May, while Larsen was on the run, one of Casolari’s relatives told the Chicago Sun-Times, “What is our state doing? How do you lose this guy? “
On June 22, a three-person committee of inquiry into prisoners revoked Larsen’s parole.
The board could reconsider whether he should be paroled next year.
In 1969, Larsen was sentenced to six months in prison after the rape charge was reduced to battery.
After he was arrested on May 18, 1972, the day after Casolari was murdered, he was charged with the murder of the teenage boy and the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl who was traveling with Larsen in a stolen car while he was got caught.
At the board meetings in April and June, four inmates were paroled and nine were turned down. Those released included an armed robber and two other murderers, including 79-year-old Zelma King, who shot three people in an apartment building on the South Side in 1967.