As I’ve said before, there has not been a show that left an impression on me as much as Unsolved Mysteries as a child. Early on the cases that intrigued me most were “The Unexplained” segments- that mostly consisted of UFOs, ghosts and other paranormal phenomenon. As I grew older I gravitated more towards the murders, abductions and unexplained deaths. Long before syndication, an old friend and I would record episodes and take notes on most of the cases. Not sure if we thought we’d solve them or it was just to try and find more information on them at a later date. The internet was still years away- not even a thought in my mind.
Most folks who watched the show probably understand, there were always those few episodes that really hit home. Sometimes it was fear, other times pure curiosity or perhaps a combination of the two. One of those cases was an “Unexplained Death” segment about a 19 year-old who loved BMX- which at the time was also an interest of mine; in fact popular with most young boys and teens. A good friend of mine had actually pursued it a lot further and competed for a few years before moving onto motocross.
There is a general consensus among most fans of Unsolved Mysteries, that the quality of the show, at least in content, presentation and production took a nosedive after season five. Many will argue that it was even after season three or four it rapidly diminished. For the most part, I agree. Once Filmrise and Amazon Prime resurrected the original Robert Stack episodes, I was elated. I spent the better part of my off time binge watching each season as it was rolled out. Sadly(for me at least), the spark was gone. Just gone— and once the nostalgia wore off, I didn’t view anything after season six. Many of the episodes just wasn’t the same. There were the obvious mysteries that had stuck with me over the years, however, most seemed rather silly. Once you begin researching the cases that haven’t been solved, you quickly realize that everything was not as its seems. More often than not critical information would be withheld by producers. Worse, they would insert some impressive propaganda of their own during the narration that to me diminished their credibility. Honestly, it wasn’t even close.
A Whole New World
To be completely fair, things were a bit different in late eighties and early nineties. For the most part, mainstream science at the time had somewhat legitimized things that are just outright silly today. Parapsychology was considered a real discipline, with reputable psychology departments dedicated to researching and investigating ghosts and poltergeists in order to prove their existence. It wasn’t long before it became a big business— no longer a fact-finding quest for the truth, but an easy way to make quick buck.
UFO’s were very real. While for decades the US government toyed with Americans and foreign intelligence agencies on whether unidentified flying objects were in fact alien ships or just a cover for top secret strategic weapons, that didn’t stop countless men and women to come forward about getting abducted by “greys”, aliens about four feet tall, with big heads and big black eyes, and slits for their nose and eyes. They didn’t speak verbally, but through telepathy. What compelling evidence did these folks have? Strange scars. Stories of forgotten time, anal probes and alien leaders telling you it was okay.
Men recalling during hypnotherapy sessions of half-human and alien women coming in and using them for sex. As if aliens traveled light years, risking life and limb in the name of exploration and saving their civilization, just to get the sperm of our very best men our world had to offer— some folks out of a trailer park. Overweight beer guzzling men, who smoked three and a half packs of cigarettes a day and a hundred dollar a day cocaine habit was the key to galactic survival. During their off hours for recreation, the greys appeared to take on American Thug Life. Perhaps they were the offspring of alien women who was impregnated by trailer trash?They loved to gangbang, engaging in vandalism and outright murder. For some reason they had a penchant for farms and cattle. I guess they just didn’t like them or they had “daddy issues”. Whatever it is or was, real Star Wars, the fight between empires for galactic supremacy didn’t occur in a ‘galaxy far, far away’ and it really wasn’t that long ago. The fate of the universe was fought over cornfields in Iowa only about thirty years-ago.
They were 187ing cows, tagging their turf with the secrets to the cosmos, mathematically impossible symbols and equations, far beyond human comprehension or possibility- while destroying hundreds of thousands of dollars of crops or in simple human terms, killing two birds with one stone. The story one would tell after being abducted by greys was considered proof in and of itself, by both the experts and believers who declared that because people from all over the world— from different countries, languages and cultures, who had never met… were recalling the same encounter, that alone was proof that it was real. Now don’t mind shows like Unsolved Mysteries, Sightings and even prime time shows with all these fancy awards to spread the story. Tens-of-thousands of people had the same thing happen to them while two or three drunken white trash destroyed millions of dollars of crops with a plank and rope.
Regardless on the shows liberties with the truth and facts, some cases to this very day though, are just as bizarre and in some instances, even far more mysterious than even what the show presented.
The truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
Lost on the South Side
The Mysterious Death of Chad Maurer had hit rather close to home. Not only because Chicago was not far from where I grew up, but one of my earliest memories as a child was of a similar incident.
May 7, 1985, my aunt from a small town outside Indianapolis and my cousin (her nephew) from Kentucky drove up to visit my grandmother and us, my mom and I. Navigation and GPS for anyone outside of NASA and Air Force was just science fiction. Even having a map back then, getting off the Interstate; national and/or state atlases didn’t show city streets, construction closings or openings, because you didn’t get live updates and it wasn’t uncommon for folks to keep the same US road atlas for sometimes too many “years”.
Once you cross the Illinois border coming from Indiana, Chicago is not far. A little after 2 a.m. they were running low on gas and were supposed to merge onto I-294 about ten miles earlier. So, like the good people from a small town that they were, they got off I-94 at exit 68B onto E. 130th Street to get gas, call my mom and get directions. The spot were they were supposed to merge onto I-294 is were three major roads converge and it is a giant clusterfuck today, I can only imagine what it was like 34 years ago. In an unfamiliar place that moves fast and is already very confusing, every inch you move further away, the more difficult it is to trace your path back.
Less than a mile from where they exited the tollway, they stopped and filled their car up. They began to argue about which way to go and my aunt called my mother from a payphone. Now, my mom knew where they were, and they were not in a very good area. She told them to stay put, stay visible and she’d be there in 30 minutes or so. No doubt they were tired, well mannered and not wanting to inconvenience my mom, a nice young man passing by on a moped had overheard them going back and forth and offered to give them directions to Aurora. Not only would he tell them how to get back on the interstate and to get to Aurora, but would show them. First he would need to tell his father where he was going, so could they give him a ride back to his house?
My aunt said “no”, but my cousin said “yes”. In an instant my cousin placed the man’s moped in the back of his car and down the road they went. My aunt would tell you that her gut told her something wasn’t right and even protested during the ride, something wasn’t right.
I’ll never understand why my cousin, her nephew didn’t just listen to her objections, even in front the nice young man. Was it because she an alcoholic who only recently gotten sober? Was it because she had been institutionalized on several occasions throughout her life, both jail and mental facilities? Was it because he was afraid they’d be perceived as racists? Was it because she was a woman? A combination of all the above? Did he think he could handle any harm that would come their way? A combination of all the above? Personally I’d like to think that the embarrassment of her protests alone would have forced him to pull over and apologize for her behavior and kick the nice man out of the car. He had a fucking moped and was at the gas station. They were in the car and just a minute or two from the expressway when they were at the gas station.
Little did they know, that just a minute later they were navigating through the sprawling 190 acre Altgeld Gardens housing projects on Chicago’s far South Side. The man would exit, grab his moped and head inside one of the row houses. A few minutes would pass, my aunt pleading with my cousin, her nephew— to just leave. The young man was home and they could find another gas station or something to call my mom. Just then, the nice young man and two other men were approaching their car. When he exited the vehicle to greet the trio, two of the men attacked him and third went after my aunt. Two of the men dragged her kicking and screaming to behind the building into Beaubien Woods. Honestly, I’m not sure that it would be fair to say that it was fortunate they survived.
Two years earlier, my aunt’s son had killed himself. She carried his suicide note with her until the day she died. It was soaked in her blood, leaving part of it illegible.
I recall little of my life before that Tuesday morning, but I vividly remember the chaos of my house. I had only recently turned four years-old.
Edward Garrett, then 24, was the man on the moped who offered to take my aunt and cousin on the expressway and his associates, Theodus Spence, then 19, and Walter Munson, then 24, were all captured by police the following day. They would subsequently by convicted and would be in out of prison for years.
Five years and two weeks later, another person from out of town would meet his demise in the South Side of Chicago, although it was quite some distance from Altgeld Gardens.
The Death of Chad Maurer
When watching Unsolved Mysteries as a child, every single ‘Unexplained Death’ was quite obviously a murder conspiracy in my eyes. Suicide or accidental deaths were cover ups or police incompetence, obviously parents, siblings and friends of the deceased knew them best, and if they said there was no way they committed suicide, then that’s a fact. After all, why would a show air anything short of the truth and risk their reputation?
Today, I’ve realized a few things. More often than not, people are in denial of the truth. The truth does hurt. Most people that commit suicide are not seeking attention, but suffering in silence. A few people I’ve known to take their lives, towards the end seemed almost happy and at peace. While I may never know what was going through their heads, I do believe that as they make their rounds and say goodbyes, they may appear to be at their best— that life couldn’t be better or worse should I say? Regardless, deception has no flaws to the deceived.
I’m very cautious to run with a family member’s narrative alone, especially when it comes to teenagers. Depression, mental illness in general is quite complex. Those who suffer in silence can not only fool those closest to them, but even themselves at times. When I watched Unsolved Mysteries during its recent release, vast majority of those Unexplained Deaths were nothing more than denial at its best and worst. While I love a good mystery and would nothing more to uncover a mass conspiracy of a network of serial killers tossing drunken college students in rivers or an elaborate hit by a group of teenagers engaged in satanic worship, when the mafia cannot keep a secret, despite being lifelong criminals who know the legal system all too well, then my faith in a network of megalomaniac serial killers working cooperatively is shattered. It is just human instinct to survive and carry out business as usual.
Then season four of Unsolved Mysteries came along and there was Chad Maurer. A blonde good looking nineteen year-old kid with a passion for BMX racing and had one of the cars I’ve always wanted, a 1968 Mustang. There was something very strange about this case indeed. At first viewing as an adult, it looked at if the case had the hallmarks of a typical accidental death or suicide and his parents just weren’t satisfied. They want all the answers and unfortunately with suicide you just don’t get them. So, there must be something more to it.
Now I will be the first to admit, when it comes to Chicago Police Department and homicide investigations, it is immediately in question from the start. Nothing Chicago PD hates more than having to deal with some out-of-towners who thought they could come to the big city and be down to earth and get murdered. In their mind, that is a suicide. You came here to buy drugs? That’s suicide. You got lost on the West Side trying to get to the suburbs? Suicide. All jokes aside, and lets be perfectly honest here, when you label someone’s death a suicide, it doesn’t go against the murder stats, you don’t have to spend anymore time explaining, answering questions or filling out paperwork. The moment they label it a suicide, case closed. The Chicago political machine is happy, residents can rest easier that night and police can go about business as usual. Everyone is happy, except that family who lost their loved one in Chicago.
For those who think that’s not how it works in the Windy City, just ask. I can show you at least a dozen cases in recent years where independent autopsies not only put suicide in question, but disproves it. In fact, you don’t even have to be a professional in most instances. Common sense and the ability to read is all you need to realize that something, “is just not right”. Anyone who has lived in and around the Chicagoland area are all too familiar with business and politics around here. If CPD can drop the homicide rate by a few points labeling a few murders suicide, they’ll do it. Think they won’t? They’ve done far worse. See ‘Homan Square police complex’, where thousands of suspects were arrested off record, beat, tortured, detained and whatever, you name it— and for years CPD said it didn’t exist. It has been alleged that some went in alive and never came out. While I don’t buy every little conspiracy even when something fishy is going on, CPD has long lost its credibility and benefit of the doubt.
Just after noon on Friday, May 19, 1990, Chad Maurer made a quick stop at his Simpson Street home in Monona, a suburb of Madison, Wisconsin. It was a quick stop off the clock to make a couple sandwiches during his lunch break. Just before he left to return, Chad got twenty bucks off his dad, John Maurer to fill up John’s yellow 1968 Ford Mustang. Chad was in a hurry like always, and drove off to finish his shift at the Village ‘Pedaler’, Monona’s main bike shop. It was just a two mile drive that took less than ten minutes.
Little did John and Darla “Dolly” Maurer know at the time, it would be the last time they would see their only son— alive.
According to his mother Dolly in 1991, interviews with the Associated Press and later Unsolved Mysteries, she and her husband John left home to go to the hardware store about an hour and-a-half later that evening. The store was next to the Village Pedaler, just two doors down. They noticed that John’s Mustang wasn’t parked there and immediately became concerned. Both Dolly and John entered the bike shop to see exactly what was going on. It was no surprise that Friday night— the store was packed. The owner had a line of customers that he was helping, so the Maurers looked around to see if they could spot their son. After a few minutes they asked the owner if Chad was there, and the owner believed that he had to be helping a customer in the back of the store. Chad had just started working there just two days earlier and Dolly wasn’t about to cause a scene and get Chad in trouble. Besides, bicycles were Chad Maurer’s passion. Not so much selling and tuning them up, but being around them, talking about them and seeing all the new inventory was enough to hold his appetite when he wasn’t racing and doing stunts on a BMX. With all the above in mind, Dolly and John left and returned home, not even stopping at the hardware store. According to Dolly, she knew something wasn’t right and would later recall in a subsequent interview; she had a gut feeling and couldn’t sleep but on and off “a few hours that night”.
As I stated earlier, more often than not; family and friends of victims of violence and suicide can be in denial or oblivious to reality. Not only that, but teenagers especially can be masters of deception— a regular Eddie Haskell on steroids. Dolly Maurer made it no secret though, she was no fool and her only son Chad was far from perfect. While Unsolved Mysteries refrained from putting it into the segment at the time, Dolly made it clear to the media that her son partied quite a bit. He drank and smoked pot, even tried LSD a few times. Regardless of his drug use, walking off a job and disappearing all night was not a stunt Chad pulled in the past or something even in his character. He was ambitious, a star athlete, but predicable, not a loose cannon. This was not in his nature, both his mother and father knew that. Still, he was a teenager. Maybe he ran into some friends or ran off with a girl and caught up in the moment? That was the very worst the Maurers thought, and at the time they didn’t know how wrong they were.
When Dolly didn’t hear from Chad by the time she got up at 6:30 a.m., not wanting to be rude or intrude, she waited an hour before she started calling his friends one by one. She got the same answer each time and they were surprised that Chad was out all night and hadn’t bothered to at least check in. Friends and family called back throughout the day to see if Dolly had heard something— anything, but not a peep from Chad. Sunday came and went without a word. It would be the last night Dolly and John would lay down to try and get just a little sleep thinking their only child was alive.
As the sun rose on Monday May 21, 1990, the Maurers still hadn’t heard a word from Chad. While the worst probably crossed their minds, it’s just something that couldn’t happen and had it, they would of heard something by now. After all, it had been three days and certainly had he been in a car wreck, arrested in another town or found dead somewhere, Dolly and John would have already received the call. One thing that police and the Maurers had really considered, was that Chad had been planning on saving just a few thousand dollars and moving to Boulder, Colorado. Perhaps Chad Maurer got a hair up his ass and simply decided that he was going to take his father’s Mustang and just head west. He would deal with the consequences later. Not a chance.
Back in the eighties and early nineties, before Amber Alerts and long before high profile abductions ran night and day on the 24 hour news circuit with panels of experts dissecting every detail, prior cases and known possibility, police often would insist that a teenager or twenty-something was pretty much an adult. Maybe they wanted to runaway and leave it all behind? Young adults can make bad decisions and are often impulsive. Police see it all the time. Parents all too often think they know their teenager, but little do they know, they have a dark side or secrets. Almost every teen and young adult reported missing is in fact a runaway or some misunderstanding. Statistically speaking, the chance of foul play is almost nonexistent. Almost. What law enforcement and the the public also know now— if a missing person happens to be injured, lost or did in fact encounter foul play, their odds of survival diminishes substantially after the first 48 hours.
It was a long afternoon and not a word. Nothing. Through it all Dolly and John held it together with many of Chad’s good friends calling out of concerned wanting an update. Still, nothing. As they prepared for another night of little sleep and no answers, the phone rang. John answered the phone in their Monoma home this time. It was the Chicago Police Department.
“Is Chad in jail… ?. For what?”, John assuming the best at this juncture asked the voice on the other end of the phone before they could finish.
“Your son is dead”, the voice continued, brutal, cold and straight to the point, “Carbon monoxide poisoning… he killed himself”.
It was exactly ten days after Chad’s birthday. He just turned nineteen.
Scene of the Crime & Investigation
Unless you’re familiar with the City itself, outsiders often hear of Chicago’s “South Side” and think it’s some dangerous neighborhood you’ve taken them too. The South Side of Chicago is massive, roughly 60% of the city’s land area which is over a 100 square miles itself. Due to the South Side’s size and the number of people that live there, it does have many neighborhoods and some are dangerous. The specific area Chad Maurer was found in is Wentworth Gardens. Despite having several large schools on the next block, the Wentworth Gardens neighborhood along with Chinatown and Bridgeport are part of the Armour Square area on Chicago’s South Side. It borders Bronzeville which if you follow baseball you’d know that Guaranteed Rate Field formally known as Comiskey Park and then US Cellular Field is there. While Wentworth has underwent some gentrification in the last decade, it remains a rougher area of Chicago. Back in 1990, it had the highest concentration of the city’s homicides the year prior, with 166 murders in 1989 in that neighborhood alone. It was known to be severely drug infested, largely due to the number of schools in the area, the high population density and it’s proximity to downtown. Throughout the nineties it was a drug paradise. You could walk a block or two in any direction on any given day and get any illegal narcotic you wanted with ease.
The evening of May 19, 1990, going into May, 20 was mildly cool with temperature getting no lower than 55°F. Less than a half inch of rain fell earlier in the day, with no overnight precipitation. The evening of May 20, going into the morning of May 21, was slightly cooler with the temperature dropping down to 47°F. Sunrise was at 5:26 a.m. and sunset was at 8:12 p.m.
In the early morning hours of Monday, May 21, 1990, a maintenance worker had just arrived to work at an apartment building on the 3300 block of South Michigan Ave, in the Wentworth Gardens neighborhood of Chicago. Based on news reports, the maintenance team for several of the apartment buildings in that neighborhood utilized a garage to store additional materials and to work on larger projects because the garage had electricity inside. Shortly after the maintenance worker arrived, he pulled into the alley to access to the garage and noticed the lock had been broke off (I’m assuming a padlock) so he immediately opened the garage door and inside was a yellow 1968 Ford Mustang that was mint condition with both doors unlocked. When he looked inside the Mustang, he saw a young man laying halfway between the front and backseat of the car. The car had bucket seats, leaving his lower torso and legs over the center console which in the 1968 Mustang was a parking brake. Media reports are unclear if the worker simply tapped on the window or actually opened the car door and touched Chad to wake him. Regardless, Chad Maurer who just turned 19, was unresponsive and the worker called the Chicago Police Department.
[Quick note: During the Unsolved Mysteries reenactment, it shows the maintenance worker trying to open the passenger door, but it was locked. I was able to confirm that both doors were unlocked when he was discovered]
The alley itself is a very narrow and the garage lines up with the alley, with no small driveway or anything to pull into (some homes or apartments don’t have garages, so they may have a little driveway that pulls into their backyard). If you’re not familiar how Chicago homes and garages are laid out in the area, homes and apartments are in the front facing the street, and garages are directly behind the house or apartments next to the alley. The alley has a row of garages on each side, one side is for the homes on the east side of the 3300 block of South Michigan Ave and the garages across the alley are for the homes on the west side of the 3300 block of South Indiana Ave. The west side of the 3300 block of South Michigan Ave does not have garages or an alley, because of baseball parks and the buildings on that side are actually the McCormick Student Village for the Illinois Institute of Technology.
The Chicago Police Department arrived a short time later to discover Chad Maurer dead inside his father’s yellow 1968 Mustang. Chicago PD Detective Lynn Garmon was one of the investigators assigned to the case. The ignition to the car was still in the on position, the gas tank was empty and the battery was dead. Detectives also noted bloody fingerprints smudged on one of the car’s windows. Also in the front driver’s seat was a windbreaker jacket which at the time was believed to be Chad Maurer’s. Before the body was removed from the vehicle, CPD homicide investigators determined the Chad Maurer had killed himself by carbon monoxide poisoning.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office supported CPD investigator’s conclusions. While they noted a few “minor” injuries to Chad Maurer’s hands, they stated the teen was in overall good health and physical shape, showing no signs of trauma. His cause of death was listed as “probable suicide”. Roy Dames, chief administrator for Cook County would double down on his office and Chicago Police Department’s conclusions a year-and-a-half later in a December 11, 1991, article in the Chicago Tribune stating , “the pathologist handled it perfectly.”
Chad Maurer’s body was returned to his parents for burial held at the Gunderson Funeral Home in Monona, Wisconsin. As the Maurers were making arrangements, Dolly and John were able to view their son’s body. That is when they discovered that Chad’s death was far from being a clear case of suicide. Chad had injuries consistent with either being in a fight or sustaining other trauma. According to the Maurers, Chad’s knuckles and fingers busted up and he had numerous bruises to his face. The funeral home reported that Chad had significant bruising to his groin.
While it is often cited by the media that the Madison Police Department led a separate investigation into Chad’s death, it was actually the led by the Dane County Sheriff’s Office in Madison. The Madison Police Department would assist in this investigation as it morphed into something else entirely.
On May 25, 1990, the funeral for Chad was held, but Dane County Coroner Ray Wosepka requested that his burial be postponed until a pathologist and evidence technician from the Madison Police Department examine the body and crime scene photos.
The Chicago Police Department
Before I continue, I’m going to do something different and explain the Chicago Police Department a bit from someone who has grew up in the area and witnessed “The Chicago Way” firsthand. After sticking with the same narrative for nearly two years, the Chicago Police Department would dramatically change their tune shortly after the Chicago Tribune article.
There really are no words to describe or convey how John Maurer felt hearing from Chicago PD that his son Chad killed himself with his Mustang using the $20 he gave him for gas, inside some random garage in a drug infested neighborhood in Chicago. Hopefully I’ll never have to hear similar words, so I’m not going to even try to describe what that feeling could be. What is most troubling? Without an ounce of compassion or integrity, the the worst possible news was delivered to Maurers. While some may want to argue that any delivery would be considered cold or lifeless, or perhaps it’s just how John remembered it over the years, truth is, this is more common than not with the Chicago Police Department. This is not a single instance where an investigator had a bad day and came off wrong to a victim’s family. No, this was not a single instance demonstrating a lack of training or just miscommunication. It’s the culture within the Chicago Police Department. Their typical attitude of “How dare another foreigner come to our great city of Chicago, end up where they don’t belong and get killed…”
Before you dismiss this as cheap shots and criticism of CPD based on a single case, it’s really not the words alone, but subsequent actions that clearly demonstrate not only their attitude in approaching the Maurer case like so many others, but professionalism and investigation that followed. This was not just an isolated case either. The Chicago Police Department and the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office maintained for almost two years that the Maurer investigation was 100% by the book, typical and the Maurers were just another example of parents who went on a fringe chase because they couldn’t swallow their child’s suicide. First keep in mind that the Chicago Police Department isn’t some small time operation where two part time officers are on patrol and a community college interns plays dispatcher. They’re not just issuing tickets on County Line Road and going to the occasional domestic situation at the Miller residence. This is an agency that sees and investigates more murders every year than Los Angeles and New York combined, with their main and support staff larger than most federal agencies and corporations. There isn’t a monopoly on brainpower in the organization, only integrity. As far back as I can remember, I’ve witnessed countless of press conferences with the Chicago Police Department’s superintendent, the mayor of Chicago, members of their staffs, investigators and numerous other city officials who have come and gone since— answer questions with questions. Make snide remarks and spin corrupt and criminal behavior using jest and quid pro quo.
They’ll offer wonderful advice like, “don’t come here to buy drugs and you won’t get killed” or “when you play with fire you get burned” oversimplified, drunken & reckless grandfatherly ad hominem advice, offered after the Detroit Lions lost another Thanksgiving game. A philosophy that is out of touch and place. Most Chicagoans and outsiders alike are simply amazed at the comments and attitude that oozes from city officials. Truth is, it is very comical, except the circumstances are far too tragic and it really is not the time or place. It is not professional, nor is it compassionate.
“Thoughts and prayers, but hey, they got themselves killed, around here we call it natural causes. When people drive to Chicago to buy drugs and get killed, that is suicide. Maybe natural causes, but whatever we call it, ultimately it was their choice. Moral of the story? Don’t come to Chicago and buy drugs and expect us to clean it up. Mommy and daddy need to look in the mirror if they wanna be mad”
CPD and City Hall is notorious for posturing themselves as ‘being inconvenienced’ and city officials put themselves as the real victims, certainly not the victims— “they’re dead and we gotta deal with this shit, get it?”
This is a police department notorious for guilt tripping residents and spinning crime as the “community’s fault” for not trusting them and snitching, making their job easier. I mean they shouldn’t have to investigate crime and do all that paperwork, you should go to the prosecutor’s office yourself and press charges or make a citizen’s arrest. Why use the police when you could probably do it yourself? Maybe if you didn’t buy drugs or your kids, then it wouldn’t fuel street violence. Then again, if gun manufacturers didn’t make guns and people didn’t buy drugs, then nobody would die. Certainly if some foreigner of the city didn’t come here to buy large quantities of good dope for a good price, then they wouldn’t get killed. Every time some tourist gets whacked, it makes us look bad, I swear they come up here and do that shit on purpose. Let’s go up to Chicago to get killed so we can fuck up a few alderman’s poll numbers.
Sick sad truth is, John and Dolly weren’t from Chicago and neither was their only son Chad Maurer, who was only nineteen. Whether you agree with me or not or simply “feel” for CPD and my “unjust criticism”, one thing you should know for a fact, anytime someone is found dead in Chicago, even if the cause is painfully obvious to even the uninitiated, it is to be treated as a homicide, until the medical examiner makes a determination. This is standard operating procedure for almost every department nationwide.
What this investigation at the very least should have been before they made a determination on the scene, was seek and interrogate potential witnesses in the area. Interview people that knew Chad, even via phone call in the preliminary phases— as they are simply trying to figure out who saw him last, what was he was wearing and if he had injuries, etc.. etc.. Process and collect evidence at the scene, have the coroner pick him up and then wait for the medical examiner to make a preliminary determination.
What was their approach? Another suburban white kid in a black neighborhood up to no good, fuck him and the parents that raised him. Before you send an epic mail defending law enforcement and their job, my only challenge to you is read through just a dozen or so murders in Chicago, remembering that this agency sees more homicides than LAPD and NYPD combined. Also keep in mind, the FBI had flown in seasoned CPD detectives to help them with kidnappings and murders, not because of their education, but expertise.
Time and time again, you will see CPD act like children and blame everybody except themselves for their inability to clean up Chicago. They blame the legislature and politics for gun violence, despite the fact that for over thirty years, carrying a gun on your person in the state of Illinois would almost land you prison for at least five years. By illegal, I mean to this very day it is a felony to even possess a gun in Illinois if you do not have a Firearms Owner Identification card, or as we call it here, FOID card. Regardless if the gun is in your house, you’ve never been arrested and pay your taxes. If you moved here ignorant of the law and some dumb ass teenager SWATs your house because your son or daughter beat them in Call of Duty, you my friend just earned yourself a trip the Illinois Department of Corrections. Have a FOID card but have a gun on your person without a permit? Felony. Keep in mind, the state only recently began to issue concealed carry permits. That is only after the Supreme Court of the United States ordered them to. The state still defied the order until threats of prison were issued.
The City of Chicago and
Crook Cook County has had bans on possession of handguns by having special zoning laws within the State. They outlawed gun shops. Has done everything in their power to circumvent the Constitution, even creating “assume first” laws allowing no knock warrants, and they couldn’t curb the violence. Year after year. Decade after decade. The Chicago Police Department just can’t clean up the city. So, when they had all these laws and violence with guns being the most illegal thing you could possess in city limits, who did they blame? Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana. Not a rotting school system. Not poverty levels plummeting with generations having lived in housing projects. Not when the high-rises were tore down displacing hundreds-of-thousands of residents, including an estimated 30,000 gang members throughout the city and beyond.
It was Detroit and rap music.
This is the same police department and city that fought tooth and nail, defying multiple court orders to release the Laquan McDondald tapes, with Rahm Emanuel and the Cook County prosecutor’s office pushing petty politics and running illegal interference— all while the CPD top cop assured the public that the shooting was “well within the confines of the law”. These were city leaders who claimed to have watched the tapes, Rahm himself, and there was “nothing out of the ordinary”. Not only calling the shooting “routine”, and begging us to take their word for it— but maintaining their position and digging their heels in. They even went so far as to claim that it was just too violent to watch, fear-mongering and claiming they didn’t want city gang leaders to twist it and risk violence to the police and use it as a recruiting tool. Rahm even tried to get it sealed under something very similar to a National Security clause, we just can’t handle the truth and it puts us in imminent danger. Until the tape was released, suddenly it was practically illegal to even watch it or you might get charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Suddenly Rahm and company did a complete 180, they demanded answers and wanted justice.
Dolly and John Maurer were contacted and told Chad had killed himself before the preliminary autopsy was complete and he had been buried before the toxicology report came back about six weeks later. CPD was hoping they would tell the Maurers nonsense, hope they believe it and would never hear from them again. If they didn’t buy it? Tough shit, the public will.
Dane County Sheriff’s Office Investigation
On May 25, 1990, the funeral for Chad was held at the Gunderson Funeral Home, but Dane County Coroner Ray Wosepka requested that his burial be postponed until a pathologist and evidence technician from the Madison Police Department examine the body and crime scene photos. Regardless, that is what the Chicago Police Department said. So it must be true, right? According to Dolly Maurer they both were stunned. Their only child was dead and prove to be the lowest moment in their lives and they had a long hard road ahead.
Something was different here.
While acknowledging that Chad was an avid bike racer, athlete and competitor, Wopeska would come the conclusion that Chad had been involved in some kind of confrontation.
David Sliffe, a good friend of Chad, according to The Capitol Times of Madison, Wisconsin, in a June 4, 1990, article— that he and Maurer had played Tennis the day before and “refused to believe he committed suicide.” He went on to say, “Chad wanted to race mountain bikes in Colorado, he was putting away money and had his future planned”. Still, the Chicago Police Department and Cook County Medical Examiner refused to treat Maurer’s death as murder, and while initially the cause of death was withheld, they came to the conclusion that it was probable suicide. With a suicide ruling, it doesn’t go against the city as another murder and it they don’t have to commit resources to the case.
According to the Dane County Coroner, Chad Maurer’s body bore 24 “scars”. It noted injuries to his hands and knuckles, a cut lip, bruising to his face and significant bruising of his groin area.
There was blood splatter on his shirts and skid marks on his pants.
One key piece of evidence not released to the public initially, was the discovery of suspected bloody fingerprints on the driver’s side window.
Finally, a jacket was recovered from the driver’s seat in the Mustang that the Maurers are adamant is not Chad’s. Chicago Police Department lost the jacket sometime between collecting at the scene and when Dane County Coroner’s office requested it. It was present in multiple crime scene photos.
For the past three decades, the Maurers, sleuthers, police now including Chicago PD all seem to have arrived at one conclusion. Chad Maurer skipped work in the middle of shift, drove to seedy area of Chicago to purchase drugs and encountered foul play. The second day on the job he was going to make a large purchase of drugs from somebody three hours away in Chicago?
What evidence do we have of that? Not a shred. I know criminals. I know how they operate. If there is one group of criminals that are reliable for snitching and turning state, it’s drug addicts and worse, drug dealers. If Chicago Police didn’t have informants that heard about a suburban white boy arriving one Friday night in a pristine 1968 yellow Ford Mustang with a wad of cash (remember the last thing Chad Maurer asked his Dad? For twenty buck to fill up his tank) and ended up dead, then it didn’t happen. That’s no more certain or plausible than him going down their to kill himself.
Investigators and the Maurers will admit that the drug angle is only in theory, based on several local rumors. The Maurers and friends of Chad would ultimately reveal that Chad was paid to make two trips from Madison to Milwaukee to transport drugs for a friend. I believe this rumor has become the crux of the theory, however, no evidence supports that Chad was moving drugs the night of May 19, 1990.
Two years later on the evening of May 27, 1992, Unsolved Mysteries would air a segment featuring the death of Chad Maurer. The show filmed on location in June and July in 1991. The featured the Maurer home, the Village Pedaler and the alley Chad Maurer likely died in.
John Maurer would tell the public that it was believed that Chad might have been murdered prior to being put in the garage. The cause of death refutes that, as Chad Maurer had nearly three times of what would be considered a lethal limit of carbon monoxide.
Thoughts and Analysis, Not that my Opinion Matters Anyway
Now before I go into other theories and explain numerous possibilities (cause that is all we got) and just be upfront and honest— I cannot say for sure if Chad was beat and robbed for drugs. I’m not convinced. The drug world is just full of snitches. Based on what I could find, the evidence does show that he likely was dragged into the Mustang at one point, tossed inside on the driver’s seat and then someone shoved him over so they could get in and drive. Did they drive to steal the car? Did they mug him in Madison to get a ride home, beat him up and ditch him? Don’t know. Whether their intent was to kill him, I don’t know. Perhaps they pulled in and jumped out and shut the door without thinking about shutting the car off.
I’m just not convinced that Chad drove there for drugs, nor am I sure he actually drove to Chicago voluntarily.
A couple of things I want to cover before I get into any theories here. I think some elements are being overemphasized and there are much more logical explanations. Starting with Chad’s injuries.
Chad was an avid BMX rider and racer. This was pretty big in the eighties and honestly something a lot of delinquents, preps, stoners and for some, it was a lifestyle. His injuries were just as consistent with wiping out on your bike as being in a fight. I know from first hand. I personally loved to ride my bike around at that time as did a lot of the kids in the neighborhood. Potheads, gangbangers, good kids, bad kids and okay kids. Countless times I wrecked doing jumps or attempting tricks that caused injury to my groin. The bar to the frame of a bike for males is “inches” away after all. Any guy that grew up during that time and didn’t injure himself attempting some stunt, well, he wasn’t riding his bike.
Same with the scrapes to the knuckles and hands. When you wipe out or flip your bike, your hands get tore up. You institutionally try to break the fall. More often than not, I’d smash my hands into handrails, walls or on the ground when trying to grind rails, doing jumps or speeding towards a ramp and then whatever-the-fuck I was trying to do, which looked really good until I ended up all over the pavement. I went to the Emergency Room a few times riding my bike and received numerous stitches. One of my best friends growing up hit a parked car and was hospitalized and then later was hit by a car acting like an idiot. I remember my mother and grandmother screaming and yelling at me when I’d come home from a wipe out, wanting to know if I was in a fight. I never competed, but Chad did, so he probably spent a significant amount of time on his bike and tried more insane stunts than I would have, which means injuries. It is really not out of the realm of possibility that Chad injured himself a few days before that fateful night in Chicago.
Let me first address this whole suicide angle, starting with some common misconceptions.
Now, do I really need to remind you that most folks who attempt or have successfully killed themselves often don’t have a rational reason. Next, even those with a lengthy history of depression and mental illness, often (not always, yes I know) in the weeks or days leading up to their actual suicide, are often described as “at their best”, “their happiest”, “for the first time my son/daughter didn’t seem conflicted or troubled”. It isn’t all that uncommon for survivors to recall the past few weeks or months of their loved one as being ‘happy times’ and they had ‘turned a new leaf’. There are countless of articles and professionals who in fact claim that this is a sign that a suicidal person is actually going to go through with the deed. No longer are they seeking help or attention. They are now at peace and making their final rounds, visiting friends and family to say goodbye and their loved ones are finally relieved that they seem great. I don’t bring this up because I believe Chad Maurer was going to commit suicide, but I just want to poke a few holes in common misconceptions of suicide that was peddled during this and other Unsolved Mysteries episodes. The whole, “he/she wasn’t depressed” or “they had too much going for them”, I think has long been debunked. People do irrational things, even when they smart and successful.
Do I think he killed himself? No, unless he reasons for being in Chicago were confirmed that night were to meet a girl or something and caught something he shouldn’t have. Another strange aspect is the Chicago angle. Unless Chad had some connection or love of the city, why the hell would he go there? Possibly staged? Well, we can’t say that hasn’t happened before.
There is something that is not right with the whole story from start to finish, between his parents and police, nobody found it odd that Chad went back to work at the Village Pedaler after lunch, his parents arrive an hour and a half later, and the owner George Godfrey doesn’t know if he is there or not? Then a week later the bike shop is shot up in a drive by shooting? Sounds to me like a “pay me my money or else” typical drug dealer move or if Chad belonged to a suburban wannabe drug crew and he came up dead, sounds like the move they would pull as retaliation in the middle of the night to mitigate risk, yet appear hardcore. Power Projection is what this is called and sometimes it don’t work. Regardless, this shop owner doesn’t sound like he’s on the straight and narrow with the Maurers, the media and the police here. Do I believe he was involved in his murder? Absolutely not, however, a Walmart associate couldn’t disappear in a 130,000 square foot building for an hour and a half, how could Chad Maurer in a little bike shop? Especially being a new hire and in training? Worse, not one time did Dolly or John mention in numerous accounts to the press, that George didn’t call back and say something like most bosses would, like “hey, where the fuck is Chad? After you left, I went back there looking for him and guess what? He’s gone. Tell him not to come back tomorrow” or “hey, just want to let you know, Chad wasn’t here— something is not right”. Instead, Dolly by her own admission states in numerous interviews that she’s not too worried until the next morning. I mean they were just in the shop looking for Chad, he didn’t turn up and the shop owner never called? Perhaps he took it as a kid ditching his job, but his parents just went in there. Something just isn’t right. Your son, just started a new job, he’s not there and is in Daddy’s Mustang with a full tank of gas?
So what about this whole “he went to purchase dope in Chicago and encountered foul play” theory. Well let me tell you, Chad Maurer skipping work in his father’s Mustang to drive three hours to purchase dope on Chicago’s south side, doesn’t sound much more reasonable than suicide. Now, if evidence supported this theory, sure. Simply because he had a few injuries doesn’t cut it. He was an avid BMX racer. What does sound much more reasonable if drugs were involved? Either he was getting dope for the shop owner or Chad encountered foul play not far from home. Either he went to procure drugs for the shop owner or he went to pick up dope from a local drug dealer who told him, we got to go to Chicago to pick it up. The question is, did Chad go voluntary or involuntary at this juncture? Don’t know. Either way, not one shred of evidence supports this theory. No more than suicide.
Most people get their understanding of the drug world from movies or books. According to police, the year prior to his murder Chad acted as a drug courier on two separate occasions from his home outside Madison to Milwaukee. According to sources, these were people he knew. I’m just not convinced that Chad found a main supplier in Chicago and the individual that set up this deal hasn’t surfaced… to this day.
I’m rather familiar with drug distribution, while I wouldn’t be surprised if some suburban kid thought he could just drive to Chicago and score a large quantity of dope for cheap— I would be surprised if one would “actually” drive there with a wad of cash hoping to score. He’s in a pristine 1968 yellow Mustang, with a wad of cash and looking for drugs in a black neighborhood? Yeah, bullshit. There are plenty of connections in Madison. Now, what if someone in town found him somebody? Sure, but nothing has ever come up. See, drug addicts and dealers are notorious for snitching, using murders and other violent crimes on the street as leverage in their cases to get some leniency. I find it hard to believe that intelligence hasn’t surfaced in Madison or in Chicago by now. Also, I find it hard to believe that his closest friends weren’t aware if he was getting a supply soon. See, when you find a new connection and are expecting a large quantity of drugs, you start pitching it and lining up sales long before pick up. Associates usually call dibs on a portion for a prearranged price, that way you can offset initial costs, get your batch paid for and the rest is profit. Then you can buy another batch while making pure profit with the remainder of what you’re selling off. Nothing worse than buying drugs you cannot sell for a few weeks, especially if you dropped your rent money, or in Chad’s case, his trip to Boulder, Colorado.
I rarely and never would intend on questioning a victim’s family views— especially parents when it comes to these cases, but something isn’t right. While most families do their very best to paint a different picture of their child, the Maurers were upfront with the media, Chad loved to smoke weed and even tried LSD. Something tells me that Chad was likely into worse and they know it. The Maurers let some things slip put here, probably because it was pretty well known that Chad was dealing and using drugs. When you read the articles and interview with the Maurers, you feel the press hesitates, doesn’t press for the hard questions. Did Chad think he was a tough guy? Was Chad violent? Did Chad make some threats? I can’t help wonder if Chad was just in a little deeper than what the Maurers let on. Strangely enough, Chad is often mentioned as an athlete and “fierce competitor”. These are traits one would possess in all aspects of life including the dope game.
At the same time, I don’t know if I buy these injuries as simply being jumped and left to die in a garage by a drug dealer. Do you know how much heat a homicide brings to drug turf? Worse, a suburban white kid? It would cost them thousands of dollars, then again, this is Chicago PD after all. If they didn’t knock a single door that day, I wouldn’t be surprised.
So what happened to Chad Maurer?
On the surface, the Chicago suicide theory sounds ridiculous. Accidental death, it is just as possible as getting murdered. Was he carjacked and forced to drive there? Did he decide to take a friend there because “it was an emergency”? Maybe he was attacked drove and hid in an open garage. He might have waited in the garage with the Mustang running before he decided to leave, thinking he would wait until the coast was clear.
Perhaps he was under the influence of other drugs, like LSD and was hanging out with friends or associates. Chad goes out to the garage to leave, its a little chilly, or sees a cop waiting down the street and he’s still a bit messed up and starts the car and doses off and inadvertently kills himself. Wouldn’t be the first time.
Honestly, when I used to party all the time, I’ve fallen asleep in running vehicles numerous times. There were times I left bars and clubs, went out the car, I was too trashed to drive and decided to sleep in my car until I sobered up. Chad being nineteen, couldn’t legally drink and was in a sketchy neighborhood wasn’t going to dose off in the open, so he sat in the garage. If he was on drugs or drinking, carbon monoxide poisoning probably wasn’t his first thought.
Fast forward almost thirty years later and I believe that most ordinary folks with minimal understanding of both murder and suicide would ask that one simple question, what is the significance of Chicago and would would Maurer, full of life and a bright future travel to a seedy neighborhood simply to commit suicide? It just doesn’t make sense but… would it anyway? Take your pick of any of the dozens of “Unexplained Deaths” covered on Unsolved Mysteries, even obvious suicides, still the reason behind them just don’t make sense. Still countless loved ones rely on the ole’ “my son wasn’t depressed. He was happy and everything going for him… so somebody killed him”.
Honestly this is one I think we’ll never know. What this case ultimately did, was give us another fine example of “the Chicago Way”, the politics, the culture within the Chicago Police Department and how they’ll do whatever it takes to minimize anything that exposes the Chicago Police Department and City Hall for the cesspool of corruption and black hole of ignorance.
Perhaps, just perhaps… nothing is for sure, had Chicago Police Department treated this case seriously, had integrity and investigated it properly, the Maurers might had some answers today.
Resources for Further Reading: