Deathbed confession leads to search for human remains in south suburbs

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WILL COUNTY, Ill. -- A decades-old cold case has led investigators to a house in unincorporated Joliet to search for clues that might help them solve a murder.

Police from at least three different agencies gathered a single-story wood-frame ranch in unincorporated Joliet Wednesday night.

Rolling Meadows police tell WGN News the search is related to the 41-year-old murder of Michael Mansfield, who disappeared in 1975.

Detectives working the case believe evidence, or possibly Mansfield’s remains, may be found at the home, although they won’t say what leads them to believe that.

What is known is one-time Joliet resident Michael Smrekar confessed to killing Mansfield, who was his college roommate. At the time of that confession, Smrekar was dying in prison and serving time for two other murders.

Mansfield disappeared from his Rolling Meadows home over Christmas break, 1975, six days before he was scheduled to testify against Smrekar, who was accused of a dorm-room theft at Lincoln College.

Mansfield was never seen again.

The Will County Medical Examiner’s office says it has not been notified of the discovery of any human remains.