Los Angeles man arrested in 1992 murder of Skokie teen - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Los Angeles man arrested in 1992 murder of Skokie teen

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SKOKIE, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) - Esther Chereck of Skokie had to wait 22 years before seeing an arrest made in the 1992 murder of her 15-year-old son, David.

Cook County and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officers arrested Robert Serritella, 71, at his Los Angeles home on Monday morning, a statement from the Cook County Sheriff’s office said.

He was identified as the suspect in the death of David Chereck after sheriff’s police spoke with witnesses and analyzed reports from the investigation, the sheriff’s office said.

“I don’t know how I feel right now,” said his mother, Esther Chereck upon learning of the arrest. “I can’t tell you very much. I’m just in limbo.”

Chereck said she is “absolutely” relieved if investigators found the person who strangled her son, David, with his own winter scarf and then left his body in nearby Linne Woods Forest Preserve.

Cook County Sheriff’s cold case investigators contacted her Wednesday to inform her of the arrest.

David Chereck was last seen alive by a friend at about 10 p.m. New Year’s Day, 1992, near a 7-Eleven store in Skokie. His body was found the next day in the forest preserve.

When Pioneer Press reporter Nick Katz sat down with David’s parents only a couple weeks after the murder, they expressed desire to see the perpetrator apprehended. Esther at that time said that it would be “justice” for the killer to receive the death penalty.

Serritella waived extradition and will be held without bail, according to L.A. County District Attorney Greg Risling. A hearing is set for Aug. 25, Seritella said.

The murder of David Chereck, a Niles West High School sophomore, rocked the community and brought five agencies together for an investigation.

The teenager was found dead at 7:35 a.m. Jan. 2, 1992 by a man walking his dog on the 9100 block of McVickers Avenue in Morton Grove. Chereck’s shoes and jacket and about $30 in cash were missing.

After an autopsy, authorities learned he had been strangled with his own scarf. There were no signs that he had been beaten or sexually attacked nor were there signs of a struggle to indicate Chereck had forcibly been brought to the forest preserve.

Cook County Forest Preserve Police indicated early in the investigation that the murderer may have been a person or multiple people the teenager knew.

The investigation revealed that Chereck left his home on the 5300 block of Crain Street after dinner that night. He met up with friends at a bowling alley, now torn down, in downtown Skokie .

After playing video games with his friends, Chereck left the bowling alley at 10 p.m. He was later seen at a 7-Eleven store at Gross Point Road and Lincoln Avenue about six blocks from his home.

Police speculated at the time he may have cut through St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery on his way home. His parents reported him missing the next day at 6:20 a.m., about an hour before the body was found. He had been in the forest preserve since midnight, according to authorities.

Through the years, authorities continued to investigate the case, but leads dried up. About two months after David’s death, Allan Chereck expressed frustration over the lack of progress in the investigation. Six months after David’s death, authorities reported they may have had a suspect, but it never led to an arrest.

Allan Chereck died in 2000 never knowing who had taken the life of his only son.

The Chereck home Thursday was dark and no one answered the door. Neighbors on Crain Street either said they didn’t know of the case or had no comment. The Cherecks had moved to Skokie from Chicago some four to five years before David’s murder to protect him from the violence and gangs of the city, the Chereck parents told Pioneer Press in 1992.

The Cherecks always said David would live on through his friends and through the memories they had of him.

David Chereck could read and write Hebrew fluently. He was active in Congregation B’nai Emunah, and Esther said he was a committed Jew.

When an elderly couple moved in next door to their Skokie home, David would mow their lawn and shovel snow without even asking or taking money. He had planned to attend Harvard, go into business and earn enough money to take care of his parents, Allan and Esther said.

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