Two days later, her body was discovered close to the Illinois Prairie Path, a nature trail six miles from the family’s house. The crime was shocking. Her last moments had been brutal. Jeanine Nicarico had been raped and sodomized, and bludgeoned to death with a tire iron.
In March 1984 prosecutors indicted three men on charges relating to Nicarico’s rape and murder. Rolando Cruz, an Aurora gang member, had aroused suspicions when, in an apparent attempt to claim reward money, he provided false information to the police. Similarly, high school dropout Alejandro Hernandez had also tried to convince the investigators with a bogus account. And the third suspect, Steven Buckley, had been implicated by Hernandez.
The case received a great deal of publicity and the state attorney’s office was under considerable pressure to resolve it. However, not everyone believed that Cruz, Hernandez and Buckley were responsible. Indeed, a detective resigned in order to give evidence in Cruz’s defense. Mary Brigid Kenney, the assistant attorney general, stepped down as well. And in her resignation letter, she stated that she was “being asked to help execute an innocent man,” according to ProPublica.