RJ Vanecko: Is The Chicago Police Department Covering Up A Homicide?

RJ Vanecko: Is The Chicago Police Department Covering Up A Homicide?

The Chicago Sun-Times printed a Watchdog Investigation, yesterday and today, regarding the 2004 death of David Koschman. After he died, the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office called the death a homicide, yet, no one has been charged to date. On April 25, 2004, Koschman and a group of his freshly-turned fellow 21-year-old friends decided to experience Rush Street to celebrate their coming of age. After calling it a night around 3AM, they crossed paths with a group of three men and a woman. According to his friends, David Koschman bumped into one of the men and the two then exchanged words. Both parties were drunk, but one of the three men ended the confrontation with a punch. The 21 year-old then fell backwards and hit the back of his head on the street. He died 12 days later of a severe brain injury. After the punch was thrown, that person and another of the three men ran away. One of those two men was Richard J. Vanecko, the mayors nephew.

As Koschman lay dying in his hospital bed, a detective called the room and told his mother that the son had been involved in an altercation. She would get back to her soon. But, that call NEVER came. Police and prosecutors, meanwhile, said they conducted an investigation and concluded Koschman was the aggressor and that whomever hit him, acted in self defense. Now comes word that contradicts that. The Sun-Times also reported that the Chicago Police Department said that Richard J. Vanecko received no special treatment.

The Sun-Times, however, has turned up multiple problems with the so-called investigation and how it was originally handled. First, detectives did not begin their investigation until after the young man died, which was 12 days later. Second, they did not conduct a lineup until a month after the event and by that time RJ Vanecko had changed his appearance. Third, the investigation had been moved from Area 5 to Area 3 Detective Headquarters. Last, but not least of all, prosecutors now say that their files have "disappeared."

Richard Kling, a law professor at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law said "They declined charges, but they can't find the file? I've been doing this for 39 years, literally thousands of cases. I've never seen a felony-review file missing. Ever. Never heard of one. There's certainly some red flags. Like not investigating the case earlier, a missing felony-review file, transferring the case from one area to another and not having lineups until a month later."

Nanci Kloschman, David's mother, recalled for todays newspaper article that R.J. Vanecko's name was mentioned on the nightly news on May 20, 2004 as being part of the group that had bumped into her son. Soon thereafter, other news outlets picked up the story because Vanecko had also been in legal trouble before. That trouble was his misdemeanor weapons charge, stemming from a 1992 brawl and under-age drinking party at Mayor Daley's Grand Beach, Michigan vacation home. By then, reporters had begun camping-out in front of her door, so she decided to leave for the weekend and get away.

Still, the newspaper stories continued and they also quoted police authorities as saying her son had been "pushed or punched" and that "no charges would be filed." Naturally Nanci Koschman was bewildered by that and then asked a family friend, who was a lawyer, to set up a meeting at Area 3 Headquarters.

During that meeting, a detective walked in with an attitude acting like he was doing her some sort of favor. He also tried to turn the whole thing around saying things like her son was drunk, he started it and "I don't want to say this - deserved what he got." The detective wouldn't identify any of the people involved, but, he did say "You'd be really impressed by the names of the people involved in this."

Huh? WTF!
This detective doesn't sound like he is right for the job. Of course, it also wouldn't be the first time a Chicago cop pulled some shit like that out of their mouth either. Is it any wonder why many people don't trust them? Good old Western and Belmont. I had my own issues with them in the 70's involving the unwarranted arrest of my sick father and their beating the shit out of him there. Funny, when I reported it, the Police Commander and the Cook County States Attorney didn't want any part of it then either. So, I'll tell you what, I can see the cops covering up for an influential political family and I don't think that that is anything new in Chicago.

From what I have read, up until now, I don't believe that there was/is a snowball's chance in hell that there would have ever been a fair and comprehensive investigation. Of course, that is just my own opinion. I also have a legitimate right to that opinion given what happened to my father as well as an armed robbery that they did squat on. So, If this were to happen to my family, and I found out that one of the participants was that politically connected, I certainly would have requested an "external investigation" long ago.

In my mind, there is just no way that there could be a fair investigation given the level of Clout that Vanecko and his brother have enjoyed while his "unknowing" uncle has been at the helm. Haven't there been enough irregularities surrounding this kid already, first in Michigan and now we have allegations of a drunken incident where someone died? Let's not forget too that his brother has a history of questionable city business deals. Is it just me, or does it seem that Daley's nephews have taken advantage of their bloodlines?

Look, if Richard J. Vanecko is involved, in what the the medical examiner called a homicide, then shouldn't he be punished? Being connected and feeding from the public trough is one thing, but that is not an excuse to throw one's weight around, figuratively or literally. And whether R.J. Vanecko threw that punch or not, wouldn't he still be an accessory to a homicide, after the fact? I swear I have heard that charge tacked-on often enough at people of lesser financial means. I also happen to know there is no Statute of Limitations on homicides.

So what gives here?

Are we really to believe that a kid much smaller, and younger, than the group he bumped into really became an aggressor? There is not one person who knew David Koschman that would believe that scenario. Koschman, by all accounts, did not have such a demeanor.

Richard (RJ) Vanecko, on the other hand, does seem to have a little history.


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  • The Sun-Times reporters prove again that if you follow a smell that seems suspiciously rotten, you will find something rotten. This one seems to have been reeking for quite some time. Despite efforts to dispose of it, the smell persists. The only way to get rid of a bad smell is to clean it up. Mauybe start by finding that "missing" file?

  • In reply to jimbreeling:

    Jim, I agree you with you. This is one of those stories that have a "if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck - hey it has got to be a duck" qualities. My own personal experience with my father, God rest his soul, and how he was treated at Belmont / Western has left a bad taste in my mouth since the day it occurred. My father, and my mother both, have unique days of death "7/11" for my dad (can't walk into one today) and my mother "4/15" Tax Day. After all these years my friend, that one day of a policeman's inhumanity to man told me that there are two sets of rules - one for the privileged and one for the rest in this city.

  • Again a tragedy brought on by alcohol,but involving someone with clout. I had this happen many years ago with a 2 friends. One dead one arrested. No one had clout and both families suffered. This to should not be swept away,just do an honest investigation.Oh never mind,what was I thinking. To sad...

  • In reply to waterbill:

    Waterbill - thank you for sharing a personal pain. Yes! Just an honest investigation is what anyone should want - and deserve.

  • This is a tragedy and I feel for the Koschman family. I went to college with RJ and he is not a violent person and never has been. It's unfortunate that the media is creating more controversy than exists. It is a shame that this young man died, but it is unfair to blame another.

  • In reply to cgjonline:

    "CGJ" - first off - thank you for putting a human side to this. I don't doubt that RJ could or be a good guy. But it is also a shame that a young man died - and may I say this too "it is not about blaming anyone" it is asking a question about "why were there so many irregularities?" That is the intent, nothing more. There should not be two standards, one for the rich and one for all others, when it comes to the rule of law. Given that - people deserve the truth, particularly a mother who needs closure.

    I have seen what the effects of alcohol are. It can alter personalities and/or enhance other underlying behavior traits. But here is the real deal: Whether one party, or both, were responsible while under the influence - it does not erase the responsibility, or relieve the burden of getting to the truth surrounding that fateful night. It also goes beyond the Vanecko or Koschman family - citizens have a right to expect that every police / states attorney case gets its due diligence. It is also my opinion that that is not what happened in this, and many other cases.

  • In reply to cgjonline:

    Yes, there are different rules and different treatment for privilege, money and/or celebrity. When the wealthy/privileged/fsmous person does a Charlie Sheen-tyle performance he/she goes to rehab; we go to jail. In the little Nebraska town where my sister is a Lutheran minister, the town's newly hired policeman arrested five young men who went around town breaking store windows on a drunken spree. The five young men were the son of the Mayor and four friends. The cop got fired and the five drunks went golfing.

  • In reply to jimbreeling:

    I think our world is totally out of whack, Jim. Much of it has to do with a rejection of morals. I mean, it isn't very hard to figure out right from wrong - yet our fucked up world keeps spiraling into the Great Abyss. In many ways I am glad that I am getting older and closer to the end of my life's journey. The fabric continues to unravel my friend.

  • In reply to jimbreeling:

    "why were there so many irregularities?" That is the intent, nothing more"
    See I understand that you are saying that the only reason for this be brought up is to see the irregularities, but the thing is, RJ will be charged.

  • In reply to espnguy9:

    Thanks for your comment espnguy. As residents of Chicago know, the CPD has had its share of "irregularities" over the years. Many involving their own, as well as those involving connected and powerful people. This would seem to be a systemic problem and although this was brought up through the Sun-Times Investigative Team and it happens to involve RJ Vanecko - I am inclined to say that there is a much bigger problem with the CPD. and it goes beyond the one currently publicized and causing the stir. I found the Monday editorial cartoon in the S-T particularly sad, but true.

    Vanecko, as far as the CPD and the Cook County State's Attorney are concerned - is off the hook and unless federal investigators decide to look into that "and other" incidents there will be no further action.

    Sadly, the people of Chicago (and surrounding municipalities) don't trust the police because of these types of events. Personally, I don't like the fact that there are two sets of rules of justice. I also think most people don't appreciate a dual standard as well. But that is what we have in our society.

  • Look... I could be wrong but the whole "story" boils down to this; Eight years ago RJ Vanecko was a bit drunk and threw a punch which ended the life of an unfortunate kid out partying and drunk probably too.

    It was unlikely that the punch was thrown to kill but that's what happened. If I was drunk and ran over someone in my car and killed them then it would be MY FAULT. There should be some kind of trial where it would be determined what type of "restitution" needs to be paid and all the facts are disclosed openly in court.

    The same need to be done here. Unfortunately it has taken at least eight years. And yes, I think the Chicago Police Department and the "Daley Administration" is at least partially at fault for this egregious delay in justice.

  • In reply to JonathanCK:

    I don't think you have it wrong and agree that RJ Vanecko probably didn't intend to hurt anyone, but still he is ultimately responsible for his actions just like we would be. The way I see it here is that real tragedy (aside from a needless death) is that someone at the CPD and States Attorney's Office decided that because RJ was related to the Mayor (at the time) that they would try to sweep it under the rug and that is an affront to all citizens. There must be a trial and restitution - agreed. Jail time? Not so sure for RJ anyhow, but someone at CPD and/or States Attorneys Office - Yes! Thanks for commenting.

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