| || |
Today the Budget Inn and Suites, located at 8450 S. Cicero Avenue, is an ‘economy segment’ hotel boasting heart shaped hot tub suites at affordable rates. Back in the 1960s, it was known as the Phillips Motel-Lounge. An advertisement from that era promoted the Phillips Motel as offering “Kitchenette Apartments, Free TV, and Phones In All Rooms.”
Although the ad stated an Oak Lawn address, the motel actually fell within the boundaries of unincorporated Stickney Township (the area officially became Burbank two years later when the city incorporated in 1970). It was inside this nondescript building on a cold winter’s night in 1968 that a young man was slain, making it the location of Burbank’s oldest unsolved homicide.
During the early morning hours of Jan. 4, 1968, 19 year-old Richard Conn, 8354 S. Lawler Ave., found himself working the front desk of the Phillips Motel as the lone night clerk that evening. Motel guests and patrons of the Melody Lounge located on the inn’s second floor, had no idea that anything was amiss until around 1:45 a.m. when Conn staggered up the stairway connecting the restaurant on the main floor to the upstairs bar, clutching his abdomen, shouted “help” and collapsed. Conn was alive but unconscious.
An ambulance from the Burbank Manor Fire District was summoned and Conn was rushed to Christ Community Hospital in Oak Lawn where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Conn’s body bore a gunshot wound to the right side of the torso and a small nick on the left index finger between the fingernail and first knuckle that had bled.
At the time, Cook County Sheriff's Police had jurisdiction in South Stickney Township and headed up the death investigation which they quickly classified as a homicide.
Although a motive was not clear, detectives believed the murder was a result of an armed robbery gone bad. A paucity of physical evidence stymied investigators from the onset. The cash register was closed and locked and it was later determined that no money was missing. There were no signs of a struggle and police were unable to locate a weapon or bullet casings. Detectives processing the front desk area made two observations; they found blood smears on a metal cabinet behind the cash register and noted two full warm cups of coffee on the counter.
Police questioned patrons of the motel and lounge but besides a few individuals who said they heard a gunshot, no one reported seeing anything unusual. An off-duty employee who lived at the motel told investigators he saw two men drive away from the motel about the time of the shooting. He described both men as white males, between 20 to 30 years-old. The employee further described the passenger as being about 5 feet 8 inches tall and wearing a light gray waist length jacket with dark pants.
The official case report described the vehicle the men were driving as a “grey 1950 to 1956 Chrystler (sic) product with the right rear fender dented and rusty.” Hoping this information was the break they needed, police radioed a “stop, wanted for investigation” order on the rusty Chrysler but no other units spotted the suspects’ car.
With only very little information to go on in tracking down possible suspects and lack of DNA analysis at the time, the investigation reached a dead-end.
The case still remains unsolved. Although it’s been 46 years since Richard Conn was murdered, it is still being worked by the Cook County Sheriff's Police Department Cold Case Unit on the slim hope of catching the assailant(s).
According to the Sheriff’s website, “The Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department Cold Case Unit is responsible for investigating unsolved murders dating back to the 1950's and investigating missing person investigations. The unit focuses specifically on cases that occurred in the unincorporated areas of the County of Cook, though they are often called in to assist other suburban police agencies as well. The Cold Case Unit is staffed with a Detective Sergeant and three detectives whose mission is to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves by seeking answers and justice for the victims and their families.”
Police urge anyone with information relevant to this case to contact the Cold Case Unit at (708) 865-4549 or by email at Sheriff.Coldcase@cookcountyil.gov. All calls are considered confidential and a reward is being offered through Cook County Crime Stoppers for information leading to the arrest and charge of a suspect.
Adamski, T. (1968). Crimes Against Person Case Report Number 93900. Cook County Sheriff's Police Department.
Police Hunt Killer Of Stickney Youth. (1968, Jan. 7). Suburbanite-Economist, p. 1.
Chef Is Slain In Basement Of Restaurant. (1968, Jan. 4). Chicago Tribune, p. 3.