On November 18, 1987, travelers walking through a remote parking lot at O'Hare noticed an awful lot of blood dripping out of the back of one car. Its coming from Louis D'Avilo, who'd been shot in the chest and head and left in his trunk. "It's looking like O'Hare is becoming a dumping fround for anyone," said Chicago police sergeant Thomas L. Swaine at the time. Today a Chicago police press officer says the department doesn't keep track of how many bodies turn up in O'Hare parking lots. The officer went so far as to say she was "unaware" of any crime at all in the parking lots, other than an occasional car theft.
One Diane Armbruster, however, was found just this June 3 in her van in lot F, shot once in the back. She'd been missing from her Mount Morris home since May 7 and was apparently the crowd in a love triangle. She was involved with the boyfriend of a certain Sheila Swets, who shot herself in the head during a standoff with Wisconsin police in late June.
Also this June, Donald Kalwa was convicted of the 1993 murder of his roommate, Rachel Rachlin, a 29-year-old suburban schoolteacher. Rachlin disappeared August 20 that year and was found September 1 in her car trunk in lot E, shot three times in the head. She was underneath 500 pounds of dirt and so badly decomposed that police couldn't lift her fingerprints.
This is not to say the lots will put you in mortal danger. Tactical sergeant Jerry Thornton of the Chicago Police Department's O'Hare Law Enforcement Unit says he's been there nine years and only recalls the Armbruster and Rachlin bodies. So the parking lots may be safer than staying at the downtown Hyatt Regency, for instance. But do you really want to get hauled back to Chicago for court proceedings months from now to identify a picture of the car you noticed with the blood-spattered corpse in the backseat? Who needs the hassle?
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Illustration by Peter Hannan.