Deputies make arrest in 1997 death of girl, 14

2014-04-06T01:25:00Z 2014-04-09T14:12:14Z Deputies make arrest in 1997 death of girl, 14CARA SPOTO cara.spoto@journaltimes.com Journal Times

RACINE COUNTY — Racine County Sheriff’s Office deputies believe they have captured the man responsible for assaulting and killing Amber Creek, a 14-year-old Palatine, Ill., girl whose body was found in a Town of Burlington marsh in 1997.

Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling sent an email to the Journal Times on Saturday night stating that he was proud to report that his deputies had made an arrest in the 17-year-old murder on Saturday, taking a 36-year-old Illinois man into custody for the “senseless and brutal” crime.

Although he was unable to provide the man’s name, Schmaling wrote that “he had solid, clear and overwhelming evidence to prove (the suspect) is responsible for the death of” the runaway.

Known only as Jane Doe for 16 months after her body was discovered, Creek was suffocated with a plastic bag, according to investigators who worked on the crime at the time. She had been beaten, sexually assaulted and her body was left posed with an upraised hand that included a greeting, “HI,” written on her palm, according to Journal Times archives.

Her body was found on Feb. 9, 1997, in the Karcher Wildlife Area by two men who were looking for future hunting sites.

“My investigators and I sifted through thousands of reports, and spent thousands of hours over the years trying to solve this senseless murder of a child. Today by far was the best moment for my investigative team as we informed Amber’s dad that we caught her killer,” Schmaling wrote. “It was an emotional exchange for everyone in the room.

“I couldn’t be more proud of my investigative team today. Their hard work and commitment is unmatched.”

Schmaling said details of the arrest, as well as the identity of the suspect, would be released at a press briefing at 1 p.m. Monday at the Racine Sheriff’s Patrol Station.

He said that the Creek family has asked the news media to respect their privacy as they deal with this new development.

Copyright 2015 Journal Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(24) Comments

  1. HorlickGrad89
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    HorlickGrad89 - April 07, 2014 8:39 am
    For the Creek family, I am so sorry for the pain and sorrow you have had to go through with this whole situation. My thoughts and prayers to your whole family. I hope this will be able to at least bring some sort of closure and maybe at least a little bit of peace of mind.
    To all of you with the negative comments, show some respect. How would you feel if the roles were reversed and this was you in their shoes?
  2. dh80
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    dh80 - April 07, 2014 8:29 am
    That's no ones business. No one has the right to judge this family because of their personal family issues. I know what they do to these monsters in prison. In protection custody or not,they will get him and give him exactly what he deserves.
  3. americanwarrior
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    americanwarrior - April 07, 2014 7:51 am
    I guess 17 years is ok. No Justice..because he gets to live. Lets position his hand in death.
  4. SG
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    SG - April 06, 2014 10:20 pm
    As someone who knows the person arrested, my prayers go to the victims family. But I also know that this accusation seems completely out of place and while I hope the family finds the closure they need I do not believe they will find it in this arrest
  5. Relocate
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    Relocate - April 06, 2014 8:58 pm
    Outstanding job!!! I pray justice is swift for this child killer.
  6. usedkarguy
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    usedkarguy - April 06, 2014 8:46 pm
    My condolences to the Creek family. I am very sorry for your loss. And hat's off to the Racine PD, and the investigators who solved this crime.
  7. B
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    B - April 06, 2014 6:54 pm
    MCP really you're not going to even issue an apology for your insensitive comment due to the severity of the situation. A beautiful little girl got taken away from her family. WOW!!! Creek family I'm so sorry someone could have the audacity to think a comment like that is appropriate.
  8. kevinsmom68
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    kevinsmom68 - April 06, 2014 5:54 pm
    erica, i dont know if there's a such thing as justice when what happened to your sister is concerned; but hopefully this horrible person can experience a h-ell on earth, and they won't be able to harm anybody else anymore.
  9. B
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    B - April 06, 2014 4:41 pm
    Sorry my family
  10. B
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    B - April 06, 2014 4:40 pm
    Just know to the family of Amber, that she's an angel looking down on all her friends and family. If your family would like to create or have a benefit in her name call the racine moose lodge. My fily and I will pay for the hall rental, food, and spirits. Just comment if you'd like to do that and I will let the right people know and your family can celebrate her life on earth. And eternal life. God bless
  11. Dcreek
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    Dcreek - April 06, 2014 4:33 pm
    The prayers and kindness mean so much. We are so thankful to Det Hanrahan and the entire team.

  12. Dcreek
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    Dcreek - April 06, 2014 4:14 pm
    It is so encouraging to our family to read these comments. We are so incredibly thankful. Detective Hanrahan made a promise 17 years ago that he would not stop until he found the person who did this. I appreciate the entire team who worked so hard to get us here. Godspeed to the prosecutors.
  13. Honest abe
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    Honest abe - April 06, 2014 3:36 pm
    MCP, this was a 14 year old girl. There is nothing that a child could have done or said to warrant such a violent death. Have some respect for the family and the dead. Also, if you don't want speeding tickets or stop sign tickets, slow down and stop.
  14. B
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    B - April 06, 2014 3:27 pm
    God bless our police department. Rip Amber, I feel so bad for her family, having to endure such a horrible crime. To the family, I pray for you
  15. Concerned
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    Concerned - April 06, 2014 2:11 pm
    I hope that the press won't sensationalize the trial of this vicious criminal. For one, I don't want to see pictures of him, or his family in a court room. I don't want graphic details about his life, or other abhorrent acts he may have committed. Her family doesn't need this to turn into a circus. It's unfortunate he is still alive. I'm so sorry for the family.
  16. TUBBY-47
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    TUBBY-47 - April 06, 2014 1:44 pm
    I'm glad this fiend was found. I feel very sorry for what the family has endured over the past 17 years and although we have a tendency of saying "well, they now have closure" I don't believe that to be true. When a loved one is taken, especially so early in life, there is never closure. There might be some feeling of justice but there will never be closure.
  17. Even More Tired
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    Even More Tired - April 06, 2014 11:11 am
    I agree, more great work by the Sheriff's. I hope the family can find some comfort in this.
  18. synical
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    synical - April 06, 2014 11:03 am
    While there is nothing I can say to ease your sorrow, take comfort knowing there will always be tomorrow. I cannot comprehend how sad you must be feeling, the pain within your heart takes time to start healing.
    Let the years that you shared wash over your heart and soul, let the knowledge you are in our prayers help you console..
    Let her spirit fill you with strength and love, may it help the pain decrease., as each day brings a glorious dawn creates an inner peace.
    With my sincerest a deepest condolence for your loss
  19. Ngilliam1
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    Ngilliam1 - April 06, 2014 11:01 am
    So sorry the family had to wait all these years for some sort of closure.
  20. ercaaa01
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    ercaaa01 - April 06, 2014 9:48 am
    Go find yourself! If you have nothing nice to say, don't say it at all! This is my sister! Thank God we found this sick and twisted human being!! They will take good care of him in jail :) Amber - my darling sister may rest in peace now.
  21. ercaaa01
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    ercaaa01 - April 06, 2014 9:45 am
    Go find yourself! If you have nothing nice to say, don't say it at all! This is my sister! Thank God we found this sick and twisted human being!! They will take good care of him in jail :) Amber - my darling sister may rest in peace now.
  22. ercaaa01
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    ercaaa01 - April 06, 2014 9:43 am
    Thank u for your kind words! I agree!
  23. Queen
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    Queen - April 06, 2014 9:30 am
    Nice work guys and gals.
  24. ILeftThisTown
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    ILeftThisTown - April 05, 2014 11:19 pm
    Great work by Racine County investigators for not giving up after all these years and getting one step closer to giving this young girl's family the closure they deserve.
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