Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Chicago Rippers

First Trial

Gecht attempted to avoid trial by offering an insanity excuse.  He was evaluated for competency and found to be competent to stand trial, as well as being considered to have been sane at the time of the offenses.  He did have a mistrial, so his second trial began on September 20, 1983.

The prosecutor had some rather compelling evidence. In a search, the police had found the "chapel," Michael Newton writes, as well as a rifle used in a shooting.  They also found satanic literature and a "trophy" box owned by Gecht in which Andrew had described seeing as many as fifteen pieces of female breast.  From victim reports, the MO was detailed for the jury: women had been kidnapped, held against their will, and tortured with implements such as needles and ice picks.  They were also gang-raped and then forced to endure having their breasts sliced off with a garroting wire so the men could use them for a Satanic sacrifice.  Often the victims died, but they had likely felt the horrendous pain of this mutilation before they finally expired.  Yet two had survived it and now lived with the memories of their ordeals.

Gecht took the stand to speak in his own defense.  Howard and Smith report that he had admitted that he had attacked Beverly Washington, but in court, he insisted that he had killed no one and was innocent of rape and aggravated battery.   He protested that during the time when most of the murders had occurred, he was not even acquainted with the other defendants.  Despite compelling eyewitness testimony, as well as testimony from women who claimed that Gecht had asked them to cut off their nipples for him, the confessions of the others implicating Gecht were not admissible against him.  With no physical evidence linking him to murder, he could not be prosecuted for any of the killings, and his accomplices were not willing to testify against him.

Nevertheless, the jury found Gecht guilty on all counts with which he was charged: attempted murder, rape, deviate sexual assault, aggravated battery, and armed violence.  He was sentenced to 120 years in prison.

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