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Police Looking to Keep Vanecko Lineup Photos Sealed

By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 13, 2011 4:20PM

Richard "R.J." Vanecko (Image captured via NBC Chicago video)
The Police Department has repeatedly stated that Daley relative Richard "R.J." Vanecko received no preferential treatment in the murder investigation of David Koschman seven years ago. But every move they make seems to suggest just that. The Police Department has asked Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office to prevent the release of lineup photos to the public. It's the latest wrinkle in the Koschman/Vanecko story that smells more pungent with every new uncovered layer.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez has said that the inability of witnesses to identify Koschman from a lineup was a determining factor in not pursuing murder charges against him. Friends of Koschman told the Sun-Times what they've told police about the 2004 incident is inconsistent with what's in the official police report. For the lineup, Area 3 detectives placed Vanecko in a lineup with five other officers that had builds and features similar to the 6' 3", 230-pound nephew of Mayor Daley. Ronald Yawger, the lead detective in the original investigation who now works as an investigator at the State's Attorney's office, inferred that was by design,

“Do you know how hard that stupid lineup was?” said Ronald Yawger, the retired detective who now works as an investigator for the attorney general’s office. “You know how hard it is to find five guys — big guys, volunteers — to stand in a lineup? They got five guys 6-3 and fat, big. The object of the lineup is to make everybody look alike.”

Scott Allen and Shaun Hageline, two of Koschman's friends, each picked out a man they believe was Vanecko. But detectives indicated that they identified the wrong man. Hageline told the Sun-Times that a detective came to him when they re-opened the case and said that Vanecko shaved his head before standing in the lineup.

The Police Department has refused to release the lineup photos on the grounds that making them public constitutes a danger to the safety of law enforcement personnel and that they were an invasion of the personal privacy of the cops who posed in them.