Carl Reimann, who was convicted of murdering five people at a Yorkville restaurant in 1972, was granted parole by the Illinois Prisoner Review Board on Thursday, April 26.
Reimann was released from prison on that same day, Prisoner Review Board officials confirmed. He has moved into a home in suburban La Grange, Illinois, with members of a church that supported his parole.
Kendall County State’s Attorney Eric Weis, who attended the parole hearing, said the board voted 8-4 in favor of releasing Reimann on parole.
Reimann, formerly of Sandwich, and an accomplice, Betty Piche of Somonauk, entered the lounge area of the Pine Village Steak House, which once sat at the southwest corner of Route 47 and Route 34 in Yorkville, on Dec. 29, 1972, with the goal of committing a robbery.
After Piche cleared out the cash register, Reimann suddenly shot to death two patrons and three employees. Killed in the incident were patron Dave Gardner, 35, of Yorkville; patron Robert Loftus, 48, of Yorkville; employee Catherine Rekate, 16, of Yorkville; employee George Pashade, 74, of Aurora; and bartender John Wilson, 48, of North Aurora.
During the robbery, a family traveling through town entered the restaurant; Reimann and Piche told the family to keep their heads down and they wouldn’t get hurt. Following the shooting, Reimann ran out of ammunition and the family was spared, according to court records.
After the shooting of the five individuals, Reimann and Piche fled the scene in a green 1959 Chevy Bel Air, eventually reaching Morris, where they were pulled over and captured by police. The total amount stolen was $649.71, according to court records.
Reimann was sentenced to five 150-year sentences in state prison in June of 1973. Since he was sentenced before a change in the state’s sentencing laws in 1978, he was up for parole every few years. He had been housed at Dixon Correctional Center in Dixon, Illinois. Piche was sentenced as his accomplice but was released from state prison in the 1980s, and died in 2004.
Now that he is released, Reimann will be subject to a variety of restrictions, according to spokesman Jason Sweat of the Prisoner Review Board.
According to state statutes, Reimann will not be allowed to own a firearm; will have to check in regularly with a parole officer; will have to allow parole officers to search his home, place of employment or other location deemed necessary at any time; and must get permission from officials before leaving the state or if he moves or changes jobs.
The Prisoner Review Board continues to have control over Reimann’s parole even after he is released, Sweat said. If Reimann violates a condition of his parole, the board can add restrictions to his parole or even have Reimann returned to prison to finish his original sentence.
Sweat said that since Reimann was sentenced under the pre-1978 law, his parole will be effective through what would have been his full prison sentence.
Weis said family members of the murder victims who were present at Thursday’s hearing took the news “very hard.”
“Obviously a very emotional day for them, having to relive this event over and over again in their lives, and then have to see a vote come down that grants parole was difficult for them,” he said. “I think they were disappointed that the impact Reimann had on their families and their lives wasn’t taken into much consideration as they would have liked, but it was difficult for me to see them walk out disappointed in the outcome and a little concerned about what’s going to happen next when he does get out.”
Weis said if Reimann had committed the same crime today, with similar circumstances, he would be serving a life sentence, due to stricter sentencing laws that were passed after Reimann was convicted.
“By today’s standards, two or more murders is a natural life sentence, and in Illinois, natural life actually means natural life – he would die in prison,” Weis said.
Coincidentally, Reimann’s son, Matthew Reimann, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in 1988 for the 1986 killing of his neighbor, Sharon Rollins, 41, of DeKalb. According to reports at the time from the Daily Chronicle, Reimann broke into Rollins’ Taylor Street home, struck her with a ceramic statue, raped her, and then stabbed her 40 times with a screwdriver.
Matthew Reimann, 51, now resides in Lawrence Correctional Center in downstate Sumner, Illinois.
Weis said that while some board members expressed that Reimann had improved his behavior while in prison, he learned at the hearing that Reimann had been involved in infractions, some serious, during his time imprisoned.
Dallas Ingemunson, who prosecuted Reimann as the Kendall County state’s attorney, declined to comment when he was told of Reimann’s parole release Thursday morning.
Ken Berry, a senior paralegal with the Winston and Strawn law firm, said the firm agreed to take on Reimann’s case pro bono last year. Berry appeared on Reimann’s behalf at the April 26 hearing; Reimann was not present.
“We don’t condone his actions back in 1972 at all,” Berry said. “It was a horrible crime that was committed. However, parole is meant for those who have basically undergone a transformation, a rehabilitation, and have expressed a great remorse for their crimes and understand what they have done. With everything that we know about him and the religious confirmation that he went through back in 1988, he’s been consistent ever since that day. Based upon all of those factors, we thought he was a great candidate.“
Reimann worked with hospice patients in prison as a volunteer, and Berry said he would like to continue that work if possible.
“He would like to continue to work with hospice patients, and he would like to do basically anything that he can do to make atonement for anything he’s done in the past,” Berry said.
Berry said he empathizes with the families of Reimann’s victims.
“Me personally, I have lost a family member to gun violence, so I understand it more than many people will understand,” he said. “But even though I’ve been through it personally, I still feel that he was a good candidate for parole. If I didn’t think that, there’s no way I could have advocated on his behalf.”