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Police search for missing man after deathbed confession

Michael Mansfield

A deathbed confession may lead police to missing man

jay fryeThe police are searching a home in Illinois after they received a deathbed confession from a man who said he killed him in 1975.

The home is located on Barber Lane in Joliet and is now abandoned. The Rolling Hills police are hoping to locate the remains of missing Michael Mansfield that went missing in 1975 when he was 19 years old.

Russell Smrekar
Russell Smrekar – DOC

The confession comes from convicted murderer Russel Smrekar.   Smrekar and Michael went to Lincoln College in the 70’s.  Smrekar and Michael were arrested for petty theft.  Michael’s charges were later dropped and he was supposed to testify against Smrekar, but he never showed up for the hearing.  Subsequently, the charges against Smrekar were dropped.  Michael was reported as a missing person.

In 1976, Smrekar was accused of stealing two steaks and the witnesses, Jay and Robin Fry,  turned up missing.  “Smrekar sneaked into the home of Fry and his wife, Robin, on Oct. 9, 1976. Armed with a shotgun, Smrekar forced both to their knees. He put the muzzle to the chest of the pregnant Robin Fry and pulled the trigger. As Jay Fry leaned over to her, Smrekar shot him in the abdomen and head, reports the Journal Star.  Smrekar was convicted of their murders.

WJOL  reports in 2011, Smrekar, who was serving a 300 year sentence for the Fry murder, confessed to killing Michael Mansfield and Ruth Martin, 51, while on his deathbed.  According to the Journal Star he told the police that Martin’s body was “under the Interstate 55 construction that was taking place at the time.”   Because he was not able to exactly pinpoint the site, Martin’s remains have not been found.

I don’t know if the police have gone to the Barber Lane home they are searching at now before this time, but they might have asked before to search but because the home was owned by one of Smrekar’s relatives they were not giving permission, and there was not enough evidence for a warrant.  With the home now vacant this could be why they are searching now.

If anything is found, this story will be updated.

Read more here at Buried Truth Trilogy



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