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Gov. Quinn Commutes Death Sentence of Oak Forest Serial Killer Paul Runge

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the ban on the death penalty Wednesday, and in the process he commuted the death sentences of the 15 prisoners now on Death Row.

Updated March 9, 11:23 p.m.

Former Oak Forest resident and 14 other prisoners currently on Illinois' Death Row will spend the rest of their lives in prison but will not die for their crimes. As he signed the ban on the death penalty in Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn also commuted their sentences to natural life in prison, without possibility of parole or release.

“There are no words in the English language, or any language, to ease your pain,” reads Quinn's quote in the Chicago Tribune. “I want to tell them, it’s impossible, I’m sure, to ever be healed. But we want to tell all of the family members, the family of Illinois … we want to be with you. You’re not alone in your grief.”

Now 40, Paul Runge was sentenced to death in 2006 for the 1997 rapes and murders of a North Side mother and her young daughter. Yolanda Gutierrez, 35, and Jessica Muniz, just 10 years old, were tortured and assaulted for hours in the same bed in their apartment before Runge cut their throats and set their home on fire. DNA evidence found on the little girl led authorities to Runge, who is suspected in as many as five other murders between 1995 and 1997.

At the news that the death penalty ban had been passed to Quinn in January, local police officers who dealt with Runge after he turned himself in for rape in 1987

"Life is a gift, you have responsibilities in life, and everyone has the responsibility to act a certain way," said Oak Forest Deputy Police Chief David DeMarco. "If you choose not to act that way, society has said we have to do something about it. Why should you burden taxpayers ... when you've been this evil human being?

"If everything that he's accused of is true, and it probably is, it just seemed that he got a lot worse," DeMarco said. "He's obviously turning for the worse, and apparently, there was no turning back for him."

Calling Runge's crimes "appalling" and example of "heinous" crime, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez cited his case as reason to keep the death penalty in her Jan. 11 presentation to the Illinois General Assembly, said Andy Conklin, spokesman for the Cook County State's Attorney Office.

Ashley Dziubak July 17, 2012 at 04:20 AM
Let me tell you from first hand experience... he should be DEAD he shouldn't be able to take a breath period because he isn't one of the the INNOCENT ones.. he admitted to the murders isn't that enough? My mother is laying 6 feet underground and will never take a breath again thanks to THIS MONSTER. I an effed up for life and go through struggles everyday and not a day goes by when I don't think about what it would be like is THIS MAN never came to my house and did what he did to my mother. it's disgusting and it breaks my heart every minute of the day.
Sharon Bouchard September 23, 2012 at 03:14 PM
I am sorry Ashley. I know how you feel.. My Dad was murdered during a robbery when I was a teenager. People who have not been through this do not understand. Frederick should die a horrible death and so should his idiot wife .. And the Governor should be put under the prison!
L. Bartimote October 13, 2012 at 10:59 AM
Are you for real Mr Wolf, May be if he had grabbed your mother, wife or daughters you would think differently. You discuss me. THERE IS NO JUSTICE. His wife knew what he was doing to those women and she never even helped them by going to the police. If she had gone to the police after seeing what he was doing to those two sisters all those other women and child would have been saved.
Corinne Dove February 26, 2013 at 02:52 PM
Eye for an eye. When he confessed to these unthinkable crimes, he should have been 'put down' like the rabid dog he is. ~God Bless these poor families who have lived through hell on earth.~
Tim McNeil April 02, 2013 at 05:24 PM
I just finished watching a documentary on this evil person. After he was confronted with the DNA evidence, he confessed. I think it's criminal to commute the sentence to life without parole after jury(s) and Judge(s) have passed a death sentence. My heart goes out to these families who have been forever wounded; not only by the evil Paul Runge, but certainly by Gov. Quinn as well.

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