UPDATE: Bullet Slugs Found in Stanley Skridla's Casket

By: WIFR Newsroom; AP
By: WIFR Newsroom; AP
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UPDATE: OGLE COUNTY (WIFR) – It’s a story we’ve been following for years and a case former Oregon Mayor Mike Arians has been tracking for almost two decades. It’s one of the coldest cases to ever hit the Stateline.

Who killed Mary Jane Reed and her date Stanley Skridla has been a mystery for nearly 70 years. After Skridla’s body was exhumed and studied for about seven hours Thursday, Mike Arians says they’re closer than they’ve ever been to solving the case.

Arians says investigators found two bullet slugs and remnants of a third in Stanley Skridla’s casket. Arians says the slugs are consistent with the two alleged murder weapons found through past investigations. Skridla and Mary Jane Reed were shot to death on the same night back in 1948. When Reed’s body was exhumed in 2005, she was found buried with someone else’s skull. Through tips there was reason to believe her skull could be in Skridla’s coffin. However, after yesterday’s exhumation, it was discovered Reed’s skull was not in Skridla’s coffin.

Arians says there’s nothing more he can do on his end.
"I'm done. I've done all that I can do. Hopefully, my efforts over the past 17 years haven't been in vain, and that enough of the dots that I created can be connected and that law enforcement can color in the picture," says Arians.

Arians believes two suspects in the murders are still alive, however the Ogle County Sheriff’s Department says all of the possible suspects involved are dead.

The Sheriff’s Department is conducting a separate investigation. They’ve sent the bullet slugs to a crime lab for further testing. The department does not believe the slugs are consistent with the guns identified in Arian’s investigation. They also don’t believe Reed’s skull was replaced with someone else’s.

UPDATE: Mike Arians with the Mary Jane Reed Foundation says evidence found today could lead to solving one of the state's coldest cold cases.

Today the body of Stanley Skridla was exhumed and studied for about seven hours. Skridla and his date Mary Jane Reed were shot to death on the same night back in 1948.

A Winnebago County Judge gave Arians the OK to exhume Skridla's body after a tip came from someone affiliated with the Ogle County Coroner’s Office.

Tonight, Arians says they found entry points of the bullets on Skridla's body and they are consistent with the two alleged murder weapons that were found in past investigations.

There will be a news conference tomorrow afternoon to further discuss what was found during the exhumation.

OREGON, Ill. (AP) -- The former mayor of a northern Illinois city is making a final attempt to crack an unsolved double homicide dating back to 1948.

The shooting deaths occurred on the outskirts of Oregon, about 100 miles west of Chicago. Twenty-eight-year-old Stanley Skridla was killed while on a date with 17-year-old Mary Jane Reed, who was found dead four days later about 2 miles away.

Former mayor Mike Arians, who has been investigating the killings for more than 15 years, is coordinating an exhumation and autopsy of Skridla's body on Thursday. He hopes the autopsy reveals evidence that will make a break in the nearly 67-year-old case.

Arians tells the Chicago Tribune that he believes a local law enforcement officer who had an affair with Reed may have been the killer.

OGLE COUNTY (WIFR) – Her head was switched before her burial and now a more than 60-year-old Stateline murder case could be closer to getting solved.

Who killed Mary Jane Reed has been a haunting question for decades. She and another man were shot to death the same night in 1948.

A request by the Mary Jane Reed Foundation has finally been answered a year and a half later, a Winnebago County Judge has granted a petition to exhume the body of Stanley Skridla, the man who was killed the same night as Mary Jane Reed after the two were seen together.

Mike Arians with the Mary Jane Reed Foundation says people have come forward over the years with information, including someone affiliated with the Ogle County Coroner’s Office.

Reed and Skridla were shot and killed in 1948 in Oregon.

Arians says both had been in Skridla’s car prior to their murders. When Reed’s body was exhumed in 2005, she was found buried with someone else’s skull. Through tips, there’s reason to believe her skull could be in Skridla’s coffin.

"One eluded to the concept that there could very well be additional body parts that do not belong to Stanley in Skridla, in his coffin."

They hope to exhume Skridla’s body by March or April of next year, but the court order says it must be completed by June 30th at the latest.

An Ogle County Sheriff’s Deputy who had some type of romantic involvement with Reed was a person of interest, however he passed away in the ‘80’s. However, Arians says two potential accomplices are still alive.

Exhumation Requested in Ogle County Murder Case
OCTOBER 2013 --- Reporter: Tina Stein

OGLE COUNTY (WIFR) – The murders of Mary Jane Reed and Stanley Skridla who were killed after being out on a date is a mystery that continues to embroil the Stateline, nearly 65-years-old to the day.

Now, independent investigators think Mary Jane’s skull is buried with Skridla’s body. That’s why they just filed court documents requesting he be exhumed.

It was a quest to find who killed Mary Jane Reed, but when her body was exhumed in 2005, forensic anthropologists were stunned to discover she was buried with someone else’s skull, most likely one used as a cadaver. Now, eight years later, investigators think they’ll find it by digging up Stanley Skridla’s grave.

“We’ve had a party come to us who’s affiliated with the Ogle County Coroner’s office who felt we should do so, that if we did this, we’d learn everything we wanted to know about the murders,” said Mike Arians with the Mary Jane Reed Foundation.

The murders happened in Oregon in June 1948. Stanley was shot multiple times and gravely burned with acid. Mary Jane was also shot but was missing for several days before her body was found, starting to decompose.

Some people believe when she was identified, her family was too distraught to take a good look at her face.
“If her head is found along with Skridla in his coffin, that would pretty much narrow the realm of people who could have participated in this murder to the individuals involved in burying her.”

“We know there are people still alive who know what happened,” Steve Skridla said.

Steve Skridla was born four years after his uncle Stanley was killed. He hopes to not only find Mary Jane’s skull in Stan’s casket, but also the murder weapon.

Independent investigators think they’ll have a better chance finding out what happened, by requesting Rockford Police to take the case, so it can bring on the FBI, something Ogle County has refused to do.

“The people we believe that probable cause would show committed the murders are dead, anyone who had any knowledge of who committed the murders is dead. We can’t resurrect them,” Former Sheriff Greg Beitel said in a 2009 interview.

The murders became more mysterious over the decades, as speculation grew that a high ranking member of law enforcement was involved, since he and Mary Jane had a romantic relationship.

“I would like someone in Oregon who knows what really happened, obviously they’re at an older age, just to come forward, tell the truth, get it off their chest.”
The Skridla and Reed families are also getting older, that’s why they hope this exhumation will help give everyone some closure.

The Rockford Police Department was involved in the original investigation and that’s why Mike Arians wants them to take the case now. He says when Mary Jane’s body was exhumed in 2005, forensic experts found foreign pubic hairs, but the Ogle County Sheriff’s Department did not request the Illinois State Crime lab test them for DNA. He hopes by getting RPD involved, they would do a more thorough job trying to get definitive answers.

We’re told the goal to have this done is September or October, and when Stanley is reburied, Arians would like him to have full naval honors.

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