This is without doubt a curious story. While I have not yet seen the manuscript I am very familiar with the story and know some of the people involved in helping solve the 30 year old mystery.

The story begins in 1981 with the execution style killings of tavern owner Ronald Scharff and his bartender Patricia Freeman in McHenry County.  It was a baffling case, there seemed to be no motive. Of course hind sight being what it is, reveals that there were clues, but for one reason or another Law Enforcement chose to ignore them. The case went cold and the files sat in some dark corner gathering dust.

Let’s Fast Forward to 2008. My good friend Las Vegas crime author Denny Griffin and ex-mobster Frank Cullotta collaborated on Frank’s autobiography. It is a fascinating look at the mob operations in Vegas. In the book Frank tells a quick story about another mobster, Larry Neumann. While neither the name Ronald Scharff or Patricia Freeman are mentioned, a lady familiar with the case realized that Cullotta was describing the McHenry executions and alerted son Paul Scharff.

Paul had spent many years researching the case, and this was the break he needed. He contacted author Denny Griffin, ex-mobster Frank Cullotta and went into high gear to get Law Enforcement to dust the file off and do something.

Somehow I got marginally involved and wrote some articles.

I had assumed that the case was finally closed. The killer was known. He could not face trial as he had died several years earlier. But at least the Scharff and Freeman family could close the door on that chapter of their life. That assumption was shattered yesterday when I talked with Paul Scharff.

While I will not share the conversation, I think it would be fair to say that Paul is hotter than a Pepper Sprout. I can’t wait to read the book! If my name was Andrew Zinke  and I worked for the McHenry County Police Department, I’d be planning my retirement……..

I have to admit that my conversation with Winky Zinke (yes they rhyme) did not fill me with confidence that he really wanted to close this case. As long as the case remains open FOIA requests can mostly be ignored or denied.

Maybe Paul should change the title of the book to “Don’t Try To Shaft A Scharff”.

Go get em Paul!!

More soon

Simon Barrett

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