WGN Investigates Exclusive: The unwitting murder plot target

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He was two days after from being sliced, diced and bled to death in a modern day torture chamber.  So how did this wealthy, suburban businessman live to tell his story?  And why was he targeted?  The following is what Steve Campbell told WGN-Investigates during an exclusive interview, as we look deeper at one of the wildest murder scheme caught right on camera.
“Could you dream this up?” asked Steve Campbell after he asked us to blur his face on camera.  His concern makes sense because he is the focus in a bizarre murder plot to steal his fortune.
“What was your first thought…’holy cow’?” Asked WGN-TV reporter Mark Suppelsa
“Something along that line.  Holy something,” said Campbell.
Here’s how it was going to go down. You may have heard about it in the trial last week. A couple of corrupt ex-cops conspired to kidnap and torture Campbell into to handing over his vast real estate business, here at a place they jokingly called “Club Med.”
Behind the red door at 5308 Devon, they equipped the room with a sink big enough to drain the blood of a human body. They bought knives, a saw and enough stuff to chop his body to bits.
It sounds like a work of fiction, but not to Campbell – this horror story is real life. Making you wonder what kind of human could mastermind all this?
“It’s a psychopath on the loose, you know.  He definitely enjoys killing and if he gets paid along the way, that’s even better,” answered Campbell.
While you can’t see Campbell’s face on camera, we can tell you, he looks and acts like your favorite uncle – even grandfatherly. Not someone you would single out for a gruesome hit.
Why him?  He said, he doesn’t have a clue and nor does anybody else.  That he didn’t know the would-be killers and only heard from them in September of 2011 when Steven Mandell dropped a supposed real estate business letter at Campbell’s house.  But he became suspicious when he called Mandell who told him he’d found his home through a Campbell building renter.  That Mandell had stopped by Campbell’s office to find him first.  Campbell knew Mandell was lying because Campbell doesn’t have an office and his renters don’t know where he lives.
Concerned enough, Campbell dropped off the Mandell letter to the riverside police department.
He didn’t know for the next year, the would-be killers continued to follow Campbell while they built their torture chamber.
They nicknamed Campbell “Soupy,” laughing about how he would cry as they duct taped him to a wheelchair scaring him into signing away his fortune.  They created fake paperwork and had multicolored pens.
Campbell told us, even if he was being tortured, he didn’t think he’d ever sign over his vast real estate business to them.  But if he had, there’d be a twist.  Campbell has a daughter who could claim his estate and tangle the case in court.  But if she caused a problem, the men plotted to take care of her too.  Keep in mind during all the scheming, Campbell remained blissfully unaware.
Fortunately, for him, the FBI was watching, tracking the ex-cop as he drove to Campbell’s home. They had a camera inside “Club Med” and their ace in the hole a government witness – a not so honorable real estate agent who’d agreed to work from the inside.
48 hours to DDay, as in death.  The FBI tried reaching out to Campbell for the first time, but he couldn’t be found.   He’d had a long day working, so he’d shut off his cell phone and didn’t check messages until very late at night.  That’s when he heard the FBI’s messages that everything was fine, but they wanted his help.
What happened next is the stuff of novels. An FBI agent dressed up like Campbell and switched places.  The FBI agent then drove off in Campbell’s car and the suspects fell right into the trap.
The feds got their men.
But Campbell was left in the dark until last week’s trial. Only then did he learn about the grisly details – the wheelchair – the implements of torture – the sink to drain his blood – goggles to avoid blood splatters and on and on.
When WGN-Investigates talked with Campbell, he seemed remarkably calm about it all.  He said the thing that really ticked him off, however, was when he learned last week that his daughter was also a potential target.  His fatherly instincts kicked in.  But he knew he couldn’t do anything to get back at Mandell and his accomplice who’d actually committed suicide in jail prior to Mandell’s trial for the murder plot.
Steven Mandell was found guilty last Friday.  Steve Campbell couldn’t be happier for that.  Mandell’s sentencing is set for June 19th.

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  • Michael E Ltstz

    Hi Mr Suppelsa.
    I’d really like to speak with you about some issues that I have with AT&T.
    They make me feel powerless and I’m thinking that they do this to many customers. M

    Respectfully ,

  • Joyce V. Tucker

    Mark: I have a State of Illinois scam to discuss with you and probably thousands if not millions are
    affected by it as I speak thru my computer. No one else seems to steer clear of this issue. They are
    afraid to touch it.

  • Patty Gorski

    Hi Mark need u to help on investigate on Blackhawk Estates in Des Plaines, Il
    We are being treated unfairly and the water pressure is just recalled for.