In this new series, Herald-News senior reporter Brian Stanley looks back at some of the most notorious crimes in the area's history. Next month marks the 35th anniversary of a murder where the convicted killer has yet to spend a day in prison.
Although retail sales are suffering nationwide, vinyl records are making a comeback.
Maybe Raymond Scoville will return as well.
In August 1982, Scoville, then 31, owned Third Ring Records – named in reference to "Lord of the Rings" author J.R.R. Tolkien, according to a former employee – at 1112 W. Jefferson St. in Joliet. Scoville also had other stores in Aurora and Bolingbrook.
Colleen Racich also shared a financial interest in the store, and an interest in Scoville. The 22-year-old Joliet redhead also was the owner of Tobacco Road, a smoke shop in the next block at 1210 W. Jefferson St., which is the last place she was seen alive on the night of Aug. 3, 1982.
"After a day or two, her family reported her as a missing person," said retired Joliet Police Chief Dave Gerdes, who was one of the detectives assigned to the case.
Racich's friends immediately pointed investigators toward Scoville because the pair had been arguing over the finances and management of the record shops. Racich had taken out loans for the businesses and an insurance policy that would pay out to them in the event of her death.
On Aug. 7, 1982, a police officer found Racich's 1980 Datsun in the parking lot at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and connected it to the missing person case from Joliet. Her body was in the back seat covered with newspapers. She'd been shot eight times.
When Chicago police questioned Scoville, he admitted killing her, but claimed he'd acted in self-defense, according to The Herald-News files.
"We thought that was unlikely, because he went to such an extreme to clean the house of blood," said Gerdes who transported Scoville back from the city.
According to police reports, Scoville said Racich came over to his house and they argued about firing some employees. He claimed she'd attacked him with a knife. But Scoville later admitted "he picked up a rubber mallet and hit her in the head from behind a couple of times," police reported. "He said she turned around toward him and he took a fully loaded gun from the top of a record cabinet near the kitchen."
Scoville got his roommate, David Carlson, who'd been in another part of the house, to agree to tell police Racich had never come over. Scoville then took her body to the basement and wrapped it in a plastic bag and blanket to put it in the car. After driving it to Northwestern, he walked to his own Cadillac, which he kept parked in the city to avoid having it repossessed in Joliet.
Carlson was charged with concealing a homicide and later sentenced to two years in prison. Scoville was charged with murder, but his mother posted $50,000 bail to have him released from the county jail. Current Will County Public Defender Jerry Kielian was hired to represent Scoville.
"He showed up for [pretrial] motions over the next few months, but there were some adverse rulings against the defense," Kielian recalled.
Gerdes said police learned Scoville had obtained phony identification and urged the court to revoke his bail.
"He should not have been out with the information we had," Gerdes said. "It was no surprise to any of us when he skipped."
A former employee saw Scoville at a Chicago restaurant June 20, 1983. He hasn't been seen since.
"He spoke fluent Spanish. We believe he went to South America," Gerdes said.
Scoville was tried in absentia two months later.
"I was defending an empty chair in front of a jury," Kielian said. "It wasn't a super-fast verdict ... but the jurors probably wondered if he took off [there was] some kind of indication of guilt."
An arrest warrant remains active for Scoville, who would be 66 today.
"This is one of the few cases I often think about," Gerdes said. "She was such an intelligent girl. Her [late] father was a great guy and he never lost hope Scoville would be brought to justice."