Confessions of a lifelong sex offender solved a series of murders in southeast Missouri, but left one mystery unsettled, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why was Timothy Krajcir, with a long and violent rap sheet, repeatedly freed from prison decades ago, allowing him to commit more crimes? In 1963, Krajcir, at 18, pleaded guilty to a rape and an attempted murder in the Chicago area. He also admitted to attacks, or attempted attacks, on 16 other women in Illinois and burglaries of 19 homes in Pennsylvania. He was sentenced to 25 to 50 years in prison, but he got out in 1976.
“It’s sad he ever got out,” said Carbondale, Il. Police Lt. Paul Echols. “But the judge was basing his decision on the Illinois Department of Corrections, which was in support of releasing him. The psychologists felt they could let him out.” This was the way things were in the 1970s, said David Zlotnick, a professor at Roger Williams School of Law in Bristol, R.I.: “It was sort of the pinnacle of the rehabilitative approach to sentencing. We’d give them a long sentence, but allow a parole board to release them early with incentives to behave well in prisons and rehabilitate themselves. The problem is they didn’t do such a good job of it in some places and it led to what we have today, a very punitive and nonrehabilitative approach to sentences.” Authorities then might not have been as tough on rapists as they would be now, he said. Rape was treated more like a property crime than one of violence.