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Gloria Kirkpatrick

Who killed Gloria?

37 years after her brutal murder at Marina City, there are theories, and even suspects. But closure of this case remains elusive.

5-May-09 – It has been 37 years since Gloria Kirkpatrick, the young, pretty manager of the movie theaters at Marina City, was stabbed to death in the middle of the afternoon in downtown Chicago. Her assailant is unknown. Motive is unknown. Although assigned last August to a Cold Case Squad, the Chicago Police Department has nothing to report other than, “No new developments at this time.”

What happened to Gloria? What are the theories? Who are the suspects? Has time caught up with the attacker or will this forever remain a murder mystery?

Gloria Kirkpatrick was born on October 5, 1946 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Her father, Chester C. Kirkpatrick, was a chemical engineer for Borg Warner Inc. She had two sisters and a mother who has since passed away.

After graduating from Pierson Business College in Harrisburg in 1964, Gloria worked as a guide at the New York World’s Fair and attended the University of South Carolina until the family moved in 1967 to Ottawa, Illinois, 72 miles southwest of downtown Chicago. She took night courses in art at Northwestern University and taught swimming at the YMCA in Evanston.

But Gloria was restless, says her family, and moved to Chicago in the late 1960s. She was a secretary at Bertrand Goldberg Associates, the architectural firm that designed Marina City, then located on the sixth floor of the office building in the complex. She left that job to be the first manager of Marina Cinemas when it opened on September 25, 1970. In October 1971, she moved to an apartment on the 39th floor of the west tower.

“Gloria Kirkpatrick was a feisty broad,” says a friend of hers from that time. “You’re not going to get anything from her without a fight. She can take care of herself.”

Paul Huebl

Paul Huebl, now a private investigator in Los Angeles, had friends at Marina City, including fellow Chicago police officers. He met Gloria in 1970, shortly after he got out of the U.S. Army. He also knew Gloria’s boyfriend, Chuck Goldstein, who was general counsel for the Air Line Pilots Association.

Huebl (left) describes Gloria as honest, trustworthy, and well liked. “I knew Gloria very well. I can’t imagine a reason for anybody to kill Gloria Kirkpatrick.”

“Units in 18, we have a woman stabbed, 300 North State.”

It is Friday, May 5, 1972. An Alitalia DC-8 has crashed in Sicily, killing 115 people. In ten days, Alabama Governor George Wallace will be shot and paralyzed at a political rally in Maryland. The following month, five men will be arrested breaking into Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., starting the Watergate scandal.

At Marina City in Chicago, the weather is calm and it is 66 degrees.

Marina Cinemas is a triplex movie theater that has been open for less than two years. Owned by United Artists, it is Chicago’s first fully automated movie theater. Located on the lower level of Marina City, the three theaters seat 296, 198, and 168 people, respectively.

Above the theaters is television station WFLD, Channel 32. Near the lobby of the theater is Tower Gallery, a small art gallery.

3:20 p.m. Gloria, who has been at work for a half-hour, is seen outside her office, talking with a man, 40 to 50 years old, 140 to 150 pounds, dark hair, wearing a dark suit. Nothing seems out of the ordinary.

At 3:35, several co-workers hear screams. Gloria runs from her office, up a short flight of stairs, past a ticket counter, and into the building lobby. She is bleeding from nine knife wounds. She has been stabbed five times in the chest, once in the groin, and three times in her right arm. She collapses in the arms of an unknown man, an employee of Marina City Bank, who lowers her to the floor of the lobby.

(Left) This diagram, based on a Chicago Tribune illustration, shows the path of Kirkpatrick from where she was stabbed near her office to where she collapsed onto the floor of the building lobby. (See larger illustration below.)

From his office in the northeast corner of the commercial platform, the manager of the apartment buildings, Morris Swibel, hears the screams. He comes out of his office, turns right, runs down a hallway, and sees Gloria. He is the first to try to stop the bleeding, taking off his suit jacket and pressing it against the wounds. Soon, people will run over from the health club with towels, but by then Gloria has gone into shock.

Morris Swibel Morris Swibel (right), Vice President of Marina Management Corporation, in 1965 photograph with John Kolpack, a tailor for Marina City Valet Service.

Police arrive at 3:40 p.m. Gloria is taken to Henrotin Hospital 18 blocks away but she dies en route.

Paul Huebl heard about it in an elevator at the Central Detention facility on South State Street. “I had some prisoners in custody [and] as I was riding up in the elevator…there was another officer there that had a Zone 4 radio, which covers the 18th District. And on the broadcast, it went something like this, ‘Units in 18, we have a woman stabbed, 300 North State.’ I went, oh my god, that’s Marina City.”

Detectives were still on the scene when Huebl got to Marina City later in the day. He remembers seeing Morris Swibel, visibly upset. “I saw another Chicago policeman who lived in the building by the name of Mort Lieberman. And one more policeman, Charlie Baumer. And we all knew Gloria.”

The investigation

Chicago Police Department
(Above) Chicago police report on murder of Gloria Kirkpatrick at Marina City on May 5, 1972, at 3:35 p.m. According to this report, a police officer arrived on the scene five minutes later.

Paul Huebl was there when Gloria’s body was posted at the Cook County Morgue.

“I saw the wounds myself. She had defensive wounds on both hands. That meant she was fighting off this knife. And she had some pretty good stab wounds from a single-edged knife. One side of the wound is sharp and the other side is dull. The wounds were torso wounds. They were obviously fatal.”

Police questioned several people. Within a few days they had a suspect, a newspaper proofreader who had quarreled with Kirkpatrick over projection equipment breaking down, and what he said were misleading advertisements. He had been banned from the theater for being an unruly patron. He took a polygraph test but the results, said police, were inconclusive. Although he had an alibi, he was not ruled out as a suspect.

Police started looking for the well-dressed man Gloria was last seen speaking to. He was believed to be a business or casual acquaintance of the young woman’s. Her mother remembered that a week earlier, outside of Marina City on State Street, a well-dressed middle-aged man walked by and spoke to Gloria, but Gloria had turned her back on the man and said to her mother, “I can’t stand that man.”

The investigation was handled by homicide detectives from Area 6 of the Chicago Police department, located on Damen Avenue.

“I had some conversations with at least one homicide dick out of Area 6,” recalls Huebl. “I know that they assigned one team on each shift. 24 hours a day, seven days a week there was always somebody working on this very high profile, nasty murder.”

Detectives had their hands full. Whoever attacked Gloria got away that day. The murder weapon was never found. And the motive has never been clear.

“The first place you look is boyfriends,” Huebl explains. “And they wanted to turn Chuck Goldstein upside down to find out where he was and whatnot. He was fully accounted for. He was never ever even remotely a suspect just simply because everybody knew where he was.“

Police had a composite sketch of the man Gloria was seen with, based on witness descriptions. He was also seen leaving the theater in a hurry, at a time when the theater was closed.

The prime suspect

According to Social Security records, Theodore J. Jagiello was born on January 1, 1918 and died in Illinois in December 1972. He would have been 53 years old at the time of Gloria’s murder.

Chicago Tribune

He died, eight months after Gloria, from a kick to the chest from a 17-year-old girl he was accosting with a knife on the Near North Side of Chicago, not far from Marina City. Jagiello, whose criminal record spanned 40 years and included robbery, rape, and assault, had threatened to cut up the girl and sell her vital organs.

(Left) Theodore Jagiello as he appeared in the Chicago Tribune on December 15, 1972.

“She kicked this son of a bitch in the chest,” says Huebl, “And she never knew it, she thought he had a heart attack and that’s what everybody told her, but what happened was, she kicked him so hard it burst the aorta. The bastard died and everybody looked at this little girl as being very heroic.”

According to Huebl, Jagiello and the man in the composite drawing “matched exactly.”

“Now, that doesn’t make it so,” he cautions. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s in the area of coincidence.”

Still, police have considered Jagiello the prime suspect.

Chicago Tribune

John Sanchez has been researching the murder of Gloria Kirkpatrick for five years. He is working on a screenplay.

In 2006, he wrote, “How does a man brutally stab someone in an area well populated by both customers and business employees on a busy Friday in the mid afternoon and simply walk out unnoticed? Did he even leave the complex? Perhaps he worked in the complex and was able to slip back to his business unnoticed through all the commotion.”

He believes the murder weapon was probably dropped into the Chicago River as the assailant walked south on either the State Street or Dearborn Street bridges.

(Left) Chicago Tribune headline the day after the murder of Gloria Kirkpatrick.

“It would no doubt still be sitting at the bottom, covered by years of trash and dirt – the perfect hiding place.”

Whoever the killer is, says Sanchez, he is probably dead. “If he is still alive he would likely be retired and living out the rest of his years still harboring a terrible secret. Can a man really live that long and harbor such a secret without telling anyone what he did? Perhaps there is a loved one or a friend still around who knows the truth and could still come forward.”

Sanchez says Chicago police will not “discuss even the smallest things with me off the record.”

The police report on the Kirkpatrick case, obtained by Marina City Online after filing a Freedom of Information Act request, contained only two pages. All of the second page and most of the first page were redacted.

Sanchez says he and members of Gloria’s family have seen the same, heavily redacted police report.

Robbery the most likely motive

There is evidence it was not a robbery, but reason to believe it was a robbery. A safe in Kirkpatrick’s office was open and $200 inside the safe was undisturbed. Her purse, containing identification, keys, and money, was still on her desk.

Huebl and fellow officer Mort Lieberman had complained to Gloria after seeing her count money in her office with the door open, in plain view from the ticket window. “And that would be a stack of cash, a lot of singles, a lot of fives, obviously. But for somebody who’s an armed robber, it would have looked inviting.”

Huebl speculates the robber may have known that Gloria counted the daily receipts alone in her office – and while he couldn’t see the money, he knew it was there.

“You’re not going to get anything from her without a fight. So if someone tried to rob her, my thoughts are she would have resisted and it could have escalated to [homicide].”

Perhaps she just made someone angry, or got someone fired. Huebl recalls there was a movie critic who wanted to get into the theater for free but, he says, did not go through the right channels. There may have been a dispute. “She’s a hardhead. And that’s ok. I have a lot of hardheaded friends. She was one of them.”

Huebl notes the severity of the knife wounds. “They weren’t deliberate slashes, they were stabs. Somebody obviously intended to hurt her or kill her. Knowing her, she probably – whatever happened, [it] escalated. In other words, they thought it was going to be a robbery and she wouldn’t resist and of course she got probably boisterous and probably ordered the guy to put the knife down or something. But she’s a lady that would put up a fight. And feisty would be a good description of Gloria Kirkpatrick.”

DNA analysis could crack case

Detectives would have followed every lead that they could but, says Huebl, “at some point you have to suspend the investigation and put it to bed.”

With no statute of limitations on murder, Huebl says all of the physical evidence, hopefully, has been preserved. And hopefully, police are using DNA analysis to solve the case, a tool that was not available in 1972.

“For example, if they have any DNA samples of Theodore Jagiello, and they can get a match, that might do it. Because I think that when you have a fight that violent, there’s probably the likelihood of DNA being transferred from the perpetrator even though the bulk of the injuries are suffered by the victim. The fact of the matter is, she lashed out, God knows what kind of injuries [she inflicted].”

Huebl is certain they took biological samples from Gloria because when he saw her on the autopsy table, her fingernails had been clipped all the way down.

Clients of Huebl include actors Kelsey Grammer and Danny Bonaduce. He is also a firearms expert, television producer, actor, and screenwriter. He is a former resident of Marina City, living there in the 1970s and 1980s while working for the Chicago Police Department and Cook County Sheriff’s Office.

About Gloria Kirkpatrick in 1972, says Huebl, “The thing that I can remember is it was very sad. This girl should have never been in a position where she was unprotected. She was in a relatively safe place of Marina City, so I don’t know what to make of it.”

Map showing the northwest corner of the lower level of Marina City’s commercial platform. The theaters were accessible by going down the escalator from the plaza level above, turning left and walking counter-clockwise into the lobby – or from the Dearborn Street entrance at left.

Paul Huebl’s blog: Crime, Guns, and Videotape