Life can return back to normal for residents on Barber Lane In Joliet. After a week searching for the human remains of a missing Rolling Meadows teen from 1975, investigators did not find anything. Rolling Meadows police assisted by Will County Crime Unit did not find the remains of Michael Mansfield.
It’s believed the teen was killed by his college friend, Russell Smrekar in 1975. Smrekar is a Joliet West High School graduate. Smrekar was serving 300 years in prison for killing a couple Jay and Robin Fry, who were supposed to testify against him in a robbery case. Smrekar confessed to killing two more people on his deathbed in 2011, Michael Mansfield from Rolling Meadows and Ruth Martin a witness to the robbery case. The home is believed to be owned by a relative of Smrekar’s and has been vacant for 2 years.
1974 Russell Smrekar graduates Joliet West High School
1975 starts committing robbery at Lincoln college, stealing a guitar and other items
Sept. 18, 1975 after stealing a guitar and record album from a dorm room, Smrekar asks classmate Michael Mansfield to hide it
Sept. 21, 1975 Police in Logan County question Mansfield about knowledge of burglary
Sept. 22, Smrekar arraigned in court and charged with one count of burglary and theft
Sept. 24, Smrekar’s girlfriend Patti Gunther bails him out of jail
Smrekar expelled from college
Oct 1, 1975 drives with his girlfriends to Kroger where he shop lifted two steaks worth 4-dollars in Lincoln. That’s when he first met Jay Fry and Ruth Martin. Fry worked at Kroger and Ruth Martin witnesses Smrekar throwing the evidence under a car. Smrekar is arrested.
45 minutes later Smrekar is released on own recognizance and told to appear in court on Oct. 20
Dec. 18 Michael Mansfield was charged as an accomplice in Smrekar’s crime, goes back home to Rolling Meadows but on Dec. 31 gets a phone call, leaves the house and disappears forever
March 2, 1976 court date for Mansfield but he didn’t show up.
Spring of 76′ hung jury for Smrekar for burglary
Second trial for Smrekar–mistrial
June 2nd Ruth Martin disappears.
June 8th Ruth was supposed to testify against Smrekar in theft of steak
Sept of 76 Logan county realizes that Mansfield is missing
Oct. 9th, 1976 Jay Fry and his pregnant wife Robin are murdered in their own home before Jay was testify in steak robbery
Oct 18th 1976 Smrekar appeared for the Kroger steak trial and arrested for murder
Smrekar died of terminal illness October 2011 but on his deathbed confessed to killing Michael Mansfield and Ruth Martin
Information Obtained From the Book “PROCESS OF ELIMINATION: A MIDWESTERN MURDER MYSTERY” by Bonnie J. Thompson
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