A man sentenced to over 300 years in prison for the murders of a Woodstock woman and a McHenry man in 1970 was denied parole earlier this week by the state’s prison review board.
The Illinois Prisoner Review Board on Thursday unanimously voted to deny parole to Phillip Soper.
Soper, 73, is currently serving two consecutive 150-200 year sentences for the first-degree murders of Marlene Ahrens and Guenther Dolenske.
Soper, armed with a .22 caliber handgun, attempted to rob what he thought was a McHenry tavern on December 17, 1970.
Soper mistakenly approached the rear entrance of a dental office and not the intended tavern.
Ahrens, a Woodstock resident, was leaving her job as a dental assistant when she came across Soper.
Soper fired one fatal shot into Ahrens’s chest and then fired repeatedly at the building owner, John Boeker, who had come to investigate the initial shooting, according to the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Boeker was struck by one of the bullets but survived his injuries.
The very next evening on December 18, 1970, Soper took the same loaded .22 caliber handgun and entered the Farmhouse Tavern while masked.
He robbed the patrons and bartender of approximately $750, the state’s attorney’s office said.
Prior to exiting the tavern, he fired five fatal shots into the chest and abdomen of Dolenske, who was a McHenry resident.
Surviving members of the Ahrens and Dolenski families formally objected to Soper’s release during a remote hearing before a Prisoner Review Board member last month.
McHenry County State’s Attorney Criminal Division Chief Jim Newman appeared before the full board on Thursday and argued that releasing Soper would deprecate the seriousness of his offenses.
Newman reminded the board that Soper had admitted to killing four other people in neighboring states prior to coming to McHenry County.
“Currently, legislators in Springfield are considering resurrecting the parole laws that were in effect at the time Mr. Soper committed these unspeakable crimes and that he now benefits from,” said McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally.
“The fact that the victims in this case have to hold their breath every few years and hope that a new parole panel in Springfield does the right thing is absurd and prevents victims of crime from truly ever moving on,” Kenneally said.
After denying parole to Soper, the board further ordered that any future request from Soper for parole not be considered for five additional years.