To view original article click here
March 11, 1995
Author: Joseph Sjostrom, Tribune Staff Writer
“For my hero, I chose my mother. Her name is Susan,” wrote Michael Rycek in September 1992 when he was 11 years old. “My mother always takes care of me and makes sure I am OK,” he wrote, apparently as part of a school assignment. The words were so touching that Susan Rycek framed the page they were written on and hung it on her bedroom wall, according to a prosecutor’s arguments Friday in Cook County juvenile court, where Michael, now 14, is facing charges in the death of his mother.
On Jan. 2, Michael allegedly shot and killed his mother just a few feet from where the framed page hung on the second floor of the Ryceks’ Elk Grove Village home. “She was a bitch. I had to kill her,” he allegedly explained with a sneer to police the following day. Those conflicting parts of Michael Rycek’s nature emerged from testimony and arguments before Circuit Judge John W. Rogers at a hearing to determine whether Rycek will be tried in juvenile court or adult court.
Assistant Cook County State’s Attorneys Michael Oppenheimer and Marci Jacobs have requested the case be transferred to adult court. Rycek’s attorneys, Ernest R. Blomquist and Lauren Edidin, asked Rogers to leave the case in juvenile court. The judge said he would announce his ruling on March 21.
If tried and convicted in adult court, Michael Rycek would be sentenced to prison for 20 to 60 years. If convicted as a juvenile, he could be placed on probation or held in custody until age 19.
He is now being held in the Audy Juvenile Home, 1100 S. Hamilton Ave., Chicago. On Friday, Michael’s father, John A. Rycek, testified on his son’s behalf, saying Michael seemed well-adjusted and achievement-oriented until age 11, when John and Susan began divorce proceedings. He said he asked Michael about the killing during his first visit with the boy in the Audy Home on Jan. 4.
“He told me he was feeling crazy” and said he had consumed whisky, smoked marijuana, and taken cough syrup and an anti-depressant medication called Paxil just prior to the shooting, John Rycek testified.
The father said he and Susan Rycek argued loudly and for hours at a time about child custody in front of their two sons, Michael and Daniel. Their relationship apparently remained contentious after their divorce. John Rycek said that a few days before the killing, he balked at using his health insurance coverage for psychiatric treatment that Susan wanted for Michael.
He said Susan telephoned him at work regarding a psychiatric appointment she had made for Michael the following day. “She told me if I cared about my son I’d be there at 9 a.m. the next day, and then she hung up,” he testified.
Record Number: CTR9503110122
To view original article click here
Teen Who Killed Mother Sentenced To 24 Years In Prison — (Chicago Tribune)
January 04, 1997|By Dionne Searcey, Tribune Staff Writer
Theresa Hilton remembers Christmas 1994 as one of the best times she ever spent with her two brothers and her mother.
“It was beautiful,” a teary-eyed Hilton, 29, of Chicago, recalled Friday, standing outside a Cook County courtroom in Rolling Meadows. “That was the last time we were all together as a family.”
One week later, Hilton’s brother, Michael Rycek, then 14, fatally shot his mother, Susan Rycek, 47, three times in the head at the family’s Elk Grove Village home after the pair had argued about Michael drinking alcohol.
Michael Rycek, now 16, stood before Cook County Circuit Judge Brendan McCooey on Friday and pleaded guilty to the murder. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison. Rycek, who was charged as an adult, faced a maximum 60 years in prison.
The plea brings an end to nearly two years of wrangling over whether domestic disputes that occurred inside the Rycek home played a factor in Michael Rycek opening fire on his mother when she walked into her bedroom on Jan. 2, 1995.
Rycek’s lawyers had argued that he suffered from depression and did not understand court proceedings. But two psychiatric exams found him fit to stand trial.
And on Friday, his lawyer, Robert Gevirtz, said outside the courtroom that doctors he hired had found Rycek to have suffered from severe depression at the time of the slaying. But being depressed, under the law, doesn’t equal being insane, he said, so an insanity defense wasn’t pursued.
Rycek, a Conant High School football player, had been taking medication for depression for about a month before the murder occurred, Gevirtz said. Rycek became depressed when his mother and father were divorced when he was 12, Gevirtz said.
Hilton said she thought Rycek was mentally ill and needed to be in a hospital, not a prison. She described the problems in the Rycek family as typical of any household with a rebellious teenager.
“My brother has a good heart,” she said. “I don’t know, he just snapped.”
According to Larry Spector, a Cook County assistant state’s attorney who prosecuted the case, Rycek became angry at his mother when she poured out alcohol he had been drinking.
Rycek walked into the room of his brother Danny, who is two years younger, and said, “What would you do if I killed Mom?”
“I don’t know. I would probably have to call police,” his brother said, according to court records.
The two listened to music and Rycek said he was going to retrieve some cigarettes in an upstairs room.
Minutes later, Danny Rycek heard three gunshots, ran to his mother’s bedroom and saw her body lying on the floor. Michael was standing over her holding a rifle, Spector said.
“I had to do this,” Rycek told his brother.
Rycek told police he got the gun from under his mother’s bed, then waited for her to look for him to come to dinner and fired on her, Spector said.
Michael dragged his mother’s body into his own room, fished car keys out of her pocket and drove her car to the home of Hilton, who was then living near Rockford. She wasn’t home, but Rycek stayed, and police later arrested him there.