It was 27 years ago that the crime happened, Ronald Scharff was a bar owner in McHenry county, Patricia Freeman was a bar maid, both were found dead, execution style in the back of the tavern. Even though there was significant evidence, the finest of McHenry county could not find any compelling suspects.

If we fast forward to 2008 we find that a book was published Cullotta, a biography of ex Vegas Mobster Frank Cullotta, co authored by Denny Griffin. On page 130 there is a revealing detail, another mobster Larry Neuman asked for time off to travel back to Chicago, ostensibly to take care of a family issue, the issue was the fact that bar owner Ronald Scharff had supposedly been rude to Larry’s ex wife.

Last November the case seemed all but closed. Son Paul Scharff took time out to do a radio interview with me, and he explained that the case had been reopened and 20 detectives were working full time on the case. Neuman died a number of years ago, but, his name as the perpetrator would give some closure to the family.

I spoke to Paul yesterday, and guess what? The case has gone from a top priority to once again a cold case. Paul was concerned, from his perspective they had once again lost interest. Anecdotal evidence shows that McHenry is not a particularly active county in seeking the truth.

To try and get some additional information I put in a call to Sheriff Keith Nygren, the young lady that answered the phone was polite, noted my name and number, and I am still waiting for a call back. Great customer service Sheriff Nygren! I assume he is still on his donut break!

I had better luck with Lt Andrew Zanki, he at least called back. Lt Zanki is in charge of the investigation. He essentially added the official stamp to what Paul had told me.

We have scaled back the effort to 2 investigators

When I asked him about the Frank Cullotta book he sort of side stepped and waffled. The upshot of the comments as I see it are, ‘we are not believing anything that an ex mobster has to say’.

He also explained that ‘warm’ cases took precedence over cold ones, and still having two people working on it meant that it was still being worked on. Of course he did not share exactly how much time these two people were spending on trying to resolve this issue.

The one thing that was loud and clear was that Lt Andrew Zanki was surprised by some media attention. So lets give this case some serious notice.

My friend Denny Griffin has a radio show about this case tomorrow, Paul Scharff will be on it, please take some time to listen, or preferably call in.

Paul and his family deserve some closure, yet McHenry seem to be fighting that idea. I walked away from my conversation with Lt Zanki thinking ‘well it has been 27 years, whats the rush’. Bad attitude, bad publicity, and bad ethics.

Paul Scharff has a couple of web sites, for anyone that is a FaceBook fan try this, for the regular folks try this. I do know that Paul needs all the support he can get, please do spend a few minutes and check out his sites.

Simon Barrett

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