Online Staff Report
First-degree murder charges have been filed in the 2008 murder of Rockford attorney Gregory Clark, Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato announced Wednesday, April 16.
Charges against Richard Wanke, 52, were filed this morning, according to court records. Wanke was the main person of interest in Clark’s death.
Clark, 60, was shot dead Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2008, while he was operating a snow blower outside his Rockford home in the 1700 block of Oakforest Drive. Police say Clark was shot in the back several times by a suspect who jumped out of a van.
Clark was Wanke’s attorney in a 2006 burglary case and scheduled to appear in court with Wanke Feb. 8, 2008.
Wanke was arrested on a warrant Wednesday morning, April 16, 2014, at Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Ill. He is serving a 14-year prison sentence for burglary and was scheduled to be paroled May 7.
Wanke’s former girlfriend, Diane Chavez, of Rockford, was found guilty of obstruction in 2013. A jury decided Chavez lied when she told investigators that Wanke did not reside with her at 1113 Grant Ave., at the time Clark was killed. However, the conviction was later overturned and vacated by Judge Joe McGraw.
Whether there’s new evidence in the case is not known. According to witness statements, a vehicle shared by Chavez and Wanke was spotted near the scene of the shooting the day Clark was gunned down.
First-degree murder is a Class M felony, punishable by a term of 20-60 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. The penalty range is enhanced to 25 years to natural life when the defendant personally discharges a firearm in the commission of the crime.
The Rock River Times will have more on this story as it develops.