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Episode 116

Unsolved: The Lane Bryant Shooting

November 15, 2021   Tags: , ,
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On Saturday, February  2nd, 2008, a gunman entered the Tinley Park Lane Bryant store shortly after it opened at 10 AM. The man posed as a delivery person before murdering five women and leaving another for dead. Despite having a witness to the crime, the suspect remains unknown. 

The Morning of the Shooting:
On Saturday, February  2nd, 2008, the Tinley Park Lane Bryant store was having a large clearance sale. Manager Rhoda McFarland knew her associates would need help with the extra foot traffic. 

Before opening the store that morning, Rhoda had taken all their receipts to the bank. Then she and a part-time sales associate opened the store as planned, at 10 AM. Eight minutes later a man entered the store. He had paperwork and said he was a delivery man. The sales associate greeted him while Rhoda began organizing behind the register. 

The man looked around the store. Then he pulled out a .40 caliber Glock. He said he was there to rob the store. Now pointing the gun at the women, the perpetrator instructed them to empty the register--which only contained two hundred dollars.

Then two customers entered the store. The gunman shuffled all four women to the back room and made them bind each other’s wrists behind their backs with duct tape. Once bound, he instructed them to lay face down on the floor. 

While tending to his hostages, two more customers entered the store. The robber grabbed them and forced them into the back room. Again they were bound. The customers were 37-year-old Connie Woolfolk a mortgage lender and single mom with two sons. 34-year-old Jennifer Bishop was visiting Chicago from South Bend with her husband. She was a nurse and mother to three. 33-year-old Carrie Chiuso was a school counselor. 22-year-old Sarah Szafranski was shopping that morning for clothes to wear to her new job at CNA Financial Chicago. 

The man went through the women’s purses and stole money and other belongings. Once he was distracted, Rhoda made her move. 

She was able to get her hands free and to her cell phone. She called 911 at 10:44 AM. The Tinley Park police have only released part of the 911 call and we will be listening to a little bit later in the episode. But you can hear Rhoda whisper, “Lane Bryant” at the start of the call. 

The Lane Bryant store was in a shopping center that housed a Super Target, Kohls, pet stores and restaurants. When the dispatch put out the call to the Tinley Park police department, an officer was just a few hundred yards away at the Super Target. 

The officer arrived at the scene within two minutes.



The Scene:
The suspect was gone. But in the back room, the officer came upon a horrific scene. Rhoda had been shot in the forehead. 
Four of the women were shot in the back of the head. 

The part-time sales associate turned her head when the shooter tried to execute her. The bullet grazed her neck. She played dead until the police arrived. 

Law enforcement locked down the area. The entire Brookside Marketplace shopping center south of Interstate 80 was sectioned off from the outside. Officers entered all the stores searching for the gunman. A helicopter was brought in for a birds eye view. There was no sign of him. 

The officers did have a witness, but they did not confirm that to the public at first. Initially it was to protect the survivor in case the shooter decided to come back. Investigators interviewed her multiple times, not wanting to overwhelm her. 

Each interview brought officers new information. During one of the interviews, she told officers the suspect fondled one of the women before killing them. He also covered their faces with underwear.

According to the Sun Times, Connie Woolfolk had blood under her nails. She also had scratches on her body. Her brother said, “She was beat up pretty bad. He must have pistol whipped and beat [her] up pretty bad.”

It hasn’t been reported if the other victims were also beaten. The shooter left behind his shell casings. The survivor was also able to direct police to a coffee cup the man had been carrying. 





The Investigation:
The survivor gave a description of the shooter. It evolved over the interviews. At first she described him as a black male between 6’ to 6’2”, 230-260 pounds. He was roughly 25-35 years with a medium complexion and clean shaven. He was dressed in black jeans with writing or embroidery made of rhinestones on the back pockets. The rhinestones design looked like a cursive G. 

He wore a black waist-length jacket, charcoal gray, knit cap and his braided hair was pulled back in three to five puffy cornrows. One of the braids was over the right side of his face, going to cheek level. The braid had four light green beads at the end.  

A sketch was released of the suspect. 

Off of the witness’s statement, the police began looking for the man. On top of releasing the sketch, they contacted many salons to see if anyone recognized him. A hairdresser told the Sun Times, that unless a man was getting dreadlocks, they often have family members do it. They also reached out to black pastors in the area. 

The Lane Bryant store didn’t have security cameras. Police looked for cameras in nearby businesses. Target did have a camera a few hundred yards away. On the camera two cars of interest were spotted--a dark SUV and a small sedan. One pulled up in front of the store at 10:39 AM, the other a minute later. Both vehicles left at 10:46 AM.




ASSIGNMENT:

On Saturday, February 2nd, 2008, a shooter entered the Lane Bryant store in Brookside Marketplace south of I-80 in Tinley Park, Illinois--a suburb of Chicago--at 10:08 AM. 

The killer shot 42-year-old Rhoda McFarland in the forehead. He executed 4 customers----37-year-old Connie Woolfolk, 34-year-old Jennifer Bishop, 33-year-old Carrie Chiuso, and 22-year-old Sarah Szafranski--with a shot to the back of the head as well.

The murderer had exited the building by 10:46 AM. He’s described as 6’ to 6’2”, 230 to 260 pounds. He was dressed in black jeans with a rhinestone design on the back pockets that looked like cursive G. His hair was braided in puffy corn rows; the front one had four light green beads at the end. 

If you have any information you can contact the Tinley Park Police or contact us.

CODE OF CONDUCT: 

1. Do not name names publicly. Send everything to the police or to this page and we will forward to the police. 
2. Do not post side by side photos.
3. Do not contact any family members. 
4. Do not doxx each other and be civil. We all want the same thing. 

As tips come in, Jensen and Holes will work to verify them. If they look good, we will publish them here to try and get us closer to their names.

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