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Silence drapes Gauger murder cases

By KRISTEN TURNER

kturner@nwherald.com

WOODSTOCK - Four months after a McHenry County grand jury indicted two men in connection with the murders of Ruth and Morris Gauger, top prosecutors are tight-lipped about where the cases are going.

The case files for Randall E. Miller and James W. Schneider remain quiet, with a March 22 date set to check on the status of the warrants issued for them.

"We're working on it," McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi said Friday.

He and his criminal chief, Robert Beaderstadt, said they were reviewing voluminous files connected to the cases - including police reports, statements and trial transcripts.

Bianchi said his office was handling several serious cases right now. Among them is Adriaan Vlot's murder trial, which is scheduled to begin next month.

The Gaugers were killed on their Richmond farm in 1993.

The indictments of Miller and Schneider - in one of the most controversial murder cases in county history - were handed down only weeks before the end of former State's Attorney Gary Pack's term.

Schneider and Miller were convicted in 1998 and 2000, respectively, of the murders and other crimes in a federal racketeering trial.

They are in federal prison, and Schneider, who confessed to the crime, is serving his sentence under federal protection.

County law enforcement officials have never explicitly placed Gary Gauger outside the scope of the case, and on Pack's way out the door, he left hints that others could be charged without closing the door on Gauger.

Gauger, Ruth and Morris Gauger's son, was convicted of their murders and was given the death penalty. Gauger's sentence was reduced to life in prison after he had served nine months on death row. Pack's office dropped the charges against Gauger in 1996, after an appellate court ruling and during the investigation of the Outlaws, the motorcycle gang of which Miller and Schneider were members.

Gauger was pardoned by then-Gov. George Ryan in 2002.

Bianchi on Friday said of Gauger: "He's been pardoned. I still stick to that."

On the day he was sworn in as state's attorney, Bianchi said he already had told Beaderstadt to prepare a report detailing what it would take to put Miller and Schneider on trial.

Gauger said he was not impatient about the cases' progress, since Bianchi is "coming in cold" and has to read so many records and documents.

"It doesn't surprise me it's taking awhile," Gauger said.

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