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Police Release Vanecko Lineup Photos

By Chris Bentley in News on Nov 21, 2011 5:45PM

Richard "R.J." Vanecko (Image captured via NBC Chicago video)
On Friday Chicago Police released lineup photos from 2004, long sought by the Sun-Times in their investigation of an unsolved killing involving Daley nephew Richard "R.J." Vanecko.

The photos renew scrutiny of the 7-year-old homicide, in which a Streeterville confrontation left 21-year-old David Koschman with brain injuries that lead to his death 11 days later. Police closed the murder case without filing charges, even though a reinvestigation earlier this year concluded that Vanecko threw the deadly punch.

Witnesses said the man who threw the punch was the tallest in a group of people they’d run into after leaving Bar Chicago, The Sun-Times reported:

At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Vanecko had been the biggest man involved in the early-morning confrontation on April 25, 2004, records show.

But he wasn’t the tallest or the biggest in the police lineup held May 20, 2004, according to lineup photos that the Chicago Police Department released Friday — a lineup at which the police say no one could identify Vanecko.

Sun-Times columnist and NBC 5 reporter Carol Marin, among others, have questioned the validity of the lineup that was a key reason then-Mayor Daley’s nephew was not charged.

The men with Vanecko in the lineup — all Chicago cops — have full heads of hair, while Vanecko, then 29, is balding. One of Koschman’s four friends on the scene that night told the police that the puncher was wearing a black hat.

The Sun-Times spent eight months seeking the photos under a Freedom of Information Act request.