Carl Reimann, who was convicted of murdering five people at a Yorkville restaurant in 1972, was granted parole Thursday by the Illinois Prisoner Review Board.
Kendall County State’s Attorney Eric Weis, who attended the parole hearing, said the board voted 8-4 in favor of releasing Reimann.
Reimann, who lived in Sandwich, and an accomplice, Betty Piche of Somonauk, entered the lounge area of the Pine Village Steak House, which once sat at the southwest corner of Routes 47 and 34 in Yorkville, onáDec. 29, 1972, with the intention of robbing it.
After Piche cleared out the cash register, Reimann suddenly shot to death two patrons and three employees. Killed in the incident were patrons Dave Gardner, 35, and Robert Loftus, 48, both of Yorkville; and employees Catherine Rekate, 16, of Yorkville, George Pashade, 74, of Aurora; and bartender John Wilson, 48, of North Aurora.
During the robbery, a family traveling through town entered the restaurant; Reimann and Piche told the family to keep their heads down and they wouldn’t get hurt. After the shootings, Reimann ran out of ammunition, and the family was spared.
Reimann and Piche fled the scene in a green 1959 Chevy Bel Air, eventually reaching Morris, where they were pulled over and captured by police.
Reimann was sentenced to five 150-year sentences in state prison in June 1973. Since he was sentenced before a change in the state’s sentencing laws in 1978, he has been eligible for parole every few years. He is housed at Dixon Correctional Center in Dixon. Piche was sentenced as his accomplice. She was released from state prison in the 1980s and died in 2004.
Weis said family members of the murder victims who were present at Thursday’s hearing took the news “very hard.”
“Obviously a very emotional day for them, having to relive this event over and over again in their lives and then have to see a vote come down that grants parole was difficult for them,” he said. “I think they were disappointed that the impact Reimann had on their families and their lives wasn’t taken into as much consideration as they would have liked, but it was difficult for me to see them walk out disappointed in the outcome and a little concerned about what’s going to happen next when he does get out.”
A spokesman for the Prisoner Review Board said it could take weeks or months for Reimann to actually be released from prison. When he is released, Reimann will be subject to a variety of restrictions, according to spokesman Jason Sweat.
According to state law, Reimann will not be allowed to own a firearm; will have to check in regularly with a parole officer; will have to allow parole officers to search his home, place of employment or other locations if deemed necessary at any time; must get permission from officials before leaving the state or if he moves or changes jobs, among other restrictions.
The Prisoner Review Board continues to have control over Reimann’s parole even after he is released, Sweat said. If Reimann violates a condition of his parole, the board can add restrictions to his parole or have him returned to prison.
Sweat said Reimann’s parole will be effective through what would have been his full prison sentence.
Weis said if Reimann had committed the same crime today, he would be serving a life sentence.
“By today’s standards, two or more murders is a natural life sentence, and in Illinois natural life actually means natural life — he would die in prison,” Weis said.
Reimann’s son, Matthew, was subject to stricter sentencing rules. He was convicted in the 1986 murder of his neighbor on Taylor Street in DeKalb and now is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole.
In 1997, Carl Reimann was featured in an Associated Press news story about his work with the hospice program at the Dixon Correctional Center, where he would talk with inmates dying of AIDS.
“I just feel I need to do it to right some of the wrongs I’ve done,” Reimann said in the story. “None of the lives I’ve taken can I bring back. I can just try to make up for that for the rest of the time I have left.”
Weis said that while some parole board members noted that Reimann had improved his behavior while in prison, he learned at the hearing that Reimann had been involved in infractions, some serious, during his time imprisoned.
Dallas Ingemunson, who prosecuted Reimann as the Kendall County state’s attorney, declined to comment when he was told of Reimann’s parole Thursday morning.
Only 27 inmates in Illinois prisons have served more time than Reimann, according to Illinois Department of Corrections records.