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Sun-Times Unearths Unsolved 7-Year-Old Killing Involving Daley Nephew

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 1, 2011 4:50PM

Richard "R.J." Vanecko (Image captured via NBC Chicago video)
Why does it always seem like, when someone related to Mayor Daley gets caught up in something, it's usually a member of the Vanecko branch of the family tree? The Sun-Times has done some pretty extensive reporting the past two days on the unsolved 2004 death of a young man frequenting the bars along Division Street. David Koschman and his friends left Bar Chicago on Division in 2004 when they got into an altercation with a group of people, including Richard J. "R.J." Vanecko. What is known is that someone in Vanecko's party threw a punch that struck Koschman. Twelve days and two surgeries later, Koschman's family pulled him from life support. The County medical examiner ruled Koschman's death a homicide. But no one was ever charged.

What unfolded next has the slight tinge of "the Chicago Way." Vanecko declined to speak with police about the incident back then. Koschman's friends were unable to identify Vanecko or his friends from that night from a police lineup. The pleas of Koschman's mother for answers went largely unheeded. A police report she did receive and shared with Carol Marin was largely redacted, but a detective told her that she would have been "impressed" by the names of those involved. A policeman told Koschman's mother that her son started the altercation and deserved what he got. Most troubling, the case file for Koschman's death, which was sent to the Cook County State's Attorney, has gone missing.

Naturally, Nanci Koschman just wants answers. Since Marin and the Sun-times have taken up the reporting on the case, the Police Department said Vanecko received no special treatment at the time because he's a Daley blood relative. Police also say Koschman instigated the altercation on that fateful night; Koschman's friends deny that.

This isn't Vanecko's first brush with the law. in 1992, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor criminal charge related to a brawl at Daley's summer home in Michigan where a young man was beaten with a baseball bat.