Kristina Wesselman’s killer may have kept a trophy, an antique pearl ring, DuPage County Sheriff’s detectives revealed today on the 26th anniversary of Wesselman’s slaying.
When Wesselman was murdered July 21, 1985, she was wearing the ring, which had a small chip in the pearl, on her left hand. But, when her body was discovered the next day, the ring was nowhere to be found. Detectives believe her killer kept the ring as a memento, however they're not discounting that the ring is no longer in the killer's possession.
Detective Robert Harris, the lead investigator on the Wesselman murder, said the information about the ring has been withheld all these years, but in an attempt to stimulate new leads in the case, they decided to make the information public knowledge. The size 4 ½ ring was golden, with a small mounted pearl with a chip on the top.
“We’re hoping that someone has some information about this ring and will come forth,” Harris said.
Harris said searches of pawn shops and jewelry stores after the crime came up empty. Detectives speculate the killer could still have the ring, or could have given it to someone close so he could see it and be reminded of what he did.
Kristy was killed while walking home from the Jewel Food Store at the intersection of Butterfield Road and Route 53. Wesselman, who was 15-years-old at the time, went to the store to purchase a candy bar and soda. The crime happened in broad daylight.
Wesselman was last seen walking on a well-traveled path in unincorporated Glen Ellyn toward her home from Jewel, which is now Abbington Banquet Hall. The next day, Wesselman’s body was found by sheriff’s detectives in the field near the path where she was last seen. She had been raped and murdered. According to reports, she was repeatedly stabbed to death. DNA was left behind, but there have been no matches.
The case is still open. Harris said the case remains active, as does public interest. In 2010, Harris said the department received more than 25 new leads in the case. The latest lead was telephoned into the Sheriff’s Office two weeks ago. However, no information has led to the identification of the killer. Additionally, the DNA collected at the scene of the crime is run through a national DNA database each week in hopes of finding a match.
For 26 years Sandy Wesselman, Kristina's mother, has been praying for justice. She said the killer took all her daughter’s hopes and dreams when he raped and murdered the Glenbard South student.
Sandy said she vividly recalls the last day she saw her daughter alive. She and Kristy planned to watch a movie at home, but before they settled in, Sandy asked Kristy to go to the store. Sandy’s last words to her daughter were “be careful princess, I love you,” as Kristy headed out to buy a soda and candy bar at the Jewel.
Dressed in black on the anniversary of her daughter’s murder, Sandy told reporters she made a silent promise at her daughter’s funeral that she would never stop searching for the killer.
“Little did I know it would take me a lifetime,” Sandy said.
But, Sandy said she remains steadfast in her promise. Every time she thinks about her daughter, and what she could have become, she recommits to her promise. Sandy said she remembers sitting on the couch with her daughter before she started her freshman year at Glenbard South, talking about the future. Kristy told her mother she believed she wanted to become a psychologist.
“She told me ‘mom, there are a lot of people hurting out there and I believe I can help them,’” Sandy recounted. “But there’s a man out there who believes he got away with murder. He took those dreams from my daughter.”
Sheriff’s detectives are spending the next four to six weeks canvassing the Valley View neighborhood to talk with residents who have lived there since 1985. Harris said there are 120 residents who still live in the neighborhood since the time of the murder. He said detectives hope the visits will trigger some memory that can lead to the killer’s identification. Harris said any memory of people paying unnaturally close attention to the Wesselman case, or frequent visits to Kristy’s grave, would be helpful. Harris said they are also looking to find someone who may remember any unusual behavior or a drastic behavioral change in someone, around the time of the murder. Harris said any information would be helpful.
The Sheriff’s Office is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer.
“I remain confident that we will solve this,” Harris said.