Who is Richard Wanke?

(Note:  Trial start Monday, February 27, 2017, in courtroom 478 of the old Winnebago County Courthouse, Rockford, IL.)

Background:

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Richard at the Rockford Food Co-op

In 1991, Richard was a promising creative artist, and curator. He obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in printmaking in 1990. He spent a year in Milan Italy studying “old world” printmaking techniques under Italian printmakers. Richard curated or co-curated various local invitational art shows from 1984 – 1989, including Fish-O-Rama, a Frigerator Art show in Chicago, and a 3 Artist show in Steve Pitkin Studios, in Rockford. Below is an example of an art exhibition for Jim Julin and Greg Miller which Richard curated at the Steve Pitkin Studios.

Richard was a co-founder and gallery director in the renovation and establishment of the 317 Market Street Art Gallery in Rockford, and held cataloging and art installation positions with the Logan Museum of Anthropology in Beloit, WI., and the Rockford Art Museum in Rockford. He also assisted in the renovation of the Steve Pitkin Photography Studios in Rockford. He was the site designer for at least five Rockford Art Museum exhibitions and an instructor for the Rockford Park District’s Art-in-The-Parks program. Below are three art exhibitions held at the Rockford Art Museum in the 1980’s, listing Richard Wanke in each art show credits as either the exhibit prepararor or designer. Those of us who know Richard Wanke, know him as a warm, gregarious and cheerful person very interested and involved with the people he encounters and whatever environment he happens to be in. Richard has never made people feel bad or sorry for him. He never dwells on the negative but is always focused on finding the silver lining to any situation. Richard is never satisfied to be indifferent or a passive observer of events. He is always an organizer of activities and a solver of problems, stepping in, making suggestions and volunteering to help out in a myriad of ways. He is a hard worker and inventive and knows how to do many things. He keeps abreast of news and innovations in technology and practices. He has been an Apple enthusiast from the early days of Apple computing and is very familiar with computers in general. He has a lot of interests; from fishing, gaming, writing, science research, politics, finance, theater, film, collectibles, antiques, sports, biking, hiking, survival skills, literature and community development, to name a few. His primary interest for the past 15 years is poker. For the year or so just before  Feb 2008, Richard was very involved in no limit poker and was somewhat proficient in live play as well as online games. Improving his poker performance was his main endeavor. He  continues to follow national and international news from the poker circuits and every year June – November, he is an avid follower of the World Series of Poker championship in Las Vegas.

2008 and the suspicion of involvement in Greg Clark’s murder put Richard in IDOC much longer than he was due to be there. IL prisons are falling apart in many ways due to the state fiscal crisis and the general public disregard for the welfare of it’s large, incarcerated population. Richard refused to sit back, shrug his shoulders, and let everything deteriorate around him.  Outside organizations, such as the John Howard Association have documented the poor living conditions in IDOC prisons where essential supplies continually run short, inmates swelter in high-heat without water or cooling due to equipment breakdowns and antiquated buildings which lack air conditioning, and food and any medical care is poor and haphazard.  As an inmate trying to work through the appeal system, Richard ran into many obstacles to doing legal research, accessing his own legal paperwork, and getting supplies and court access to allow him to continue the varies levels of appeal he has undertaken pro se. Richard fought single-handedly to re-establish the law library while at Vandalia CC. He secured books for the prison from outside and as a clerk gave legal assistance in procedures and paperwork to many Vandalia inmates. He has continually pushed volunteers for this blog to feature the on-going issues within IDOC and the State of IL  and not focus just on his circumstances. As a result of his advocacy, he was treated as a troublemaker within IDOC and passed off from facility to facility. He was physically assaulted by another inmate, and IDOC refused to properly investigate his assault. In April 2014, he was moved to the Winnebago County Jail when he was formally charged with the 2008 Greg Clark murder.

Richard was always involved in community projects and helping others. He was active in helping to promote and set up “On the Waterfront”and continued to participate and promote organizations and activities. A sample of his promotional fliers for two organizations hosting events at “On the Waterfront” follows:

 He helped organize and conduct a local “Writer’s Workshop” and theater group. He helped run the Ethnic Heritage Museum in Rockford, and helped out on the “Jazz Society” newsletter among others:  He helped organize the local “Computers for Schools” group, and was an active member of the “Stateline Mac User’s Group”. He helped develop expansion at the nonprofit “Peace Store” gift shop and ran it for several years. He was a valuable promoter for the local “Block 5” festival. He did the layout and design for the 1995 festival:  Individuals who have worked with Richard have found him to always be responsible, caring, and willing to offer his time, energy and ideas and never requested compensation. Many local organizations and individuals owe their progress in some measure to some creative idea or suggestion that Richard made.

Richard Wanke & his dad – 2007

In 1999, Richard spent 1 1/2 yrs in State prison for burglary to a store. No weapon was involved and no violence, and all property was recovered. Richard kept his life clean from 1992 – 2006, when the State claimed he committed another attempted theft (of a laptop computer) which he disputes. Again, he wound up spending from 2008 to today behind bars because he got caught up in the suspicion surrounding the Greg Clark murder. Now he is on trial.

Richard’s never owned a weapon of any sort, never been a violent or even physical individual; just a computer and poker geek. Many of the kids running around today and shooting off weapons are far more reckless and irresponsible than Richard, even in his youth. He has no assaults or domestic incidents in his past and no criminal associates. He is intelligent and responsible and  does not fit the profile of the type of hardened criminal responsible for the death of attorney Greg Clark. Nor does he possess the skill sets necessary to leap from a van, expertly and accurately discharge a weapon three times into the back of an individual; execute him and then quickly and callously jump back into the van and take off without a pause or look back. That action committed smacks of someone unfazed and extremely violent. That has never been Richard Wanke.

The police focused on Richard Wanke and never considered anyone else. They did not even question the type of people who they normally would have done in any residential murder. We have to ask why not? Why did the police fail to question or investigate the usual suspects or even any other current or past client of attorney Greg Clark? Richard Wanke was wrongfully convicted in March 2017, after a lousy defense presentation by his public defenders, Nick Zimmerman and Robert Simmons. Richard Wanke was wrongfully convicted but will now pay the ultimate price for first the police failure to conduct a proper, unbiased investigation and then secondly for an outrageously poor defense at trial by two attorneys who could have and should have properly represented. Richard Wanke has been wronged and betrayed in every possible way and at every step in this prosecution by the legal authorities of Rockford, IL and Winnebago County, IL.

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Comments
  1. HelenaJ says:

    Wow, I do believe I met this man. I wondered where I had seen him before! It had to of been at the art displays on Market Street, a cozy environment with talent artist’s work displayed! Why do you believe the RPD (Rockford Police Department)targeted him and believe he is an easy target?

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  2. Mark says:

    Richard helped Deborah Newton fix up 317 Market St., and he was all over the art scene late 80’s and early 90’s. If you were there, you were sure to see him.

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  3. Tennesseetree says:

    Richard is articulate. He went on a 70-day hunger strike in 1990 to protest conditions at the old Winn County Jail. He kept popping up in court to defend himself every year since then. He filed a county lawsuit against four officers who he alleges interrogated him using questionable practices in order to elicit a dictated confession they later used against him. He sued Logli and other county politicos, and while he did not pursue any of these lawsuits, these police have shown up at or been involved in initiating every one of his cases since then. Funny, at least one of them was there at the Clark murder scene too.

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  4. Cyberman says:

    This would never have happened under the Tories.

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  5. Jane says:

    Thank you for putting forth an articulate backgroud about Richard. Those who know him will believe the best.

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  6. scaryhouse says:

    From what I remember one of the cops in the original burglary case, where Richard was intimidated into a confession, was a bully who terrorized Richard throughout middle and high school.

    That guy was also the lead investigator in the Clark murder.

    Too bad the competent investigation of Mr. Clark’s murder was thrown by the wayside in order to finally “win” a decades old feud.

    I wish SOMEONE at one of the newspapers would actually get off their duffs and INVESTIGATE this story.

    I feel sorry for the Clark family.

    Like

    • Livia says:

      I have lived on the south side of rockford all my life, pesale tear these buildings down. There is not enough money or or vision to bring these old bulidings up to code. these bulidings are of the past, Rockford needs to get in touch with the future, With the tear down of these two building we can expand davis park. We have seen how the market and movies on fridays near davis park attracts everybody there is no need to spend money on expensive things, make davis park bigger, better and cultural and easy accessible. People are afraid of downtown, because its colorful, lets embrace that, there is enough people in the downtown area to make it work, especially with the high gas prices, i can walk to an event instead of driving all the way to the east side. I beg anybody reading this, pesale tear down useless buildings that serve no purpose but to remind us that we once were a manufacturing giant, we are not anymore, and we need to accept that and move on. This city has a lot of potential, but the people that try to make changes cant due to the lack of vision from our leaders who are afraid of change and of color. Rockford has been segregated by fear for to long, lets fight for the future of our city, lets bring business back downtown, lets bring metra here and let people from all over partake in our wonderful city. Rockford is awesome! lets not be afraid to see that!!!

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  7. Tom Hill says:

    As an ex-guest in one of Illinois finest hotel…I know what he is going through. I had my cell torn apart weekly…legal paper work destroyed…mail lost…ect ect… Well it took me 7 1/2 years to finally get back to court where my sentence was over turned. I know how police lie and even destroy favorable evidence!!!! The medical department in the I.D.O.C. is corrupt….funds are diverted from the medical needs of inmates…ask Warden Chandler of the Dixon C.C. about that. They add a charge to the items an inmate purchases from the inmate commissary. Said money is suppose to go to the inmate benefit fun where it is suppose to be used for inmate sports equipment and in general things that are a benefit to inmates. As the Warden at the Hill C.C. how did inmates benefit from the money that was taken from the fund to purchase equipment for the correctional officer weight room? And why was money taken to buy dining room tables in the inmate mess hall? Also ask the I.D.O.C. what happened to the inmate release money provided in the budget? Then ask the I.D.O.C. what was done about the theft of items from the warehouse that went into I.D.O.C. vans to be delivered to the Wardens at the Mendard C.C. What about the kitchen supervisor that got caught trying to leave with a bag of frozen chickens at he Dixon C.C. He still works there!!!! In a personal matter…I was never informed by the medical director at the Dixon C.C. that I had a serious heart condition….nothing was ever done period…also I went through hell trying to get the needed HIV medications…it took a Federal Court order to get them. You get caught doing wrong you do time…but that doesn’t mean you are to be denied the basic needs of Food, Safe n Clean Living Conditions, and PROPER MEDICAL CARE!!!!

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  8. Earl Levin says:

    I knew Richard at Guilford High School in Rockford. He was without question a nice guy, very upbeat, very sharp and inquisitive, and non-judgemental about others. I remember his dad had a car repair place…was it only VW”s?….and his dad fixed my1970 VW Karman Ghia gas tank…..must gave been 1980. Richard -My brother Art and I called him Dick – was one of the few People I liked from Rockford in my three years living there. What the F happened?

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    • parchangelo says:

      Earl,
      Your description of Richard is still accurate; those who know him also find him very generous and giving towards others and always willing to help. Richard went thru a spate of intense personal losses in the early 90’s which put him into a temporary mental crisis in his late 20’s. He should have gotten counseling but did not perceive what was happening and instead ended up in jail. He tried to get help from the criminal system, but it was very archaic at the time and they just prosecuted him. Most of his friends abandoned him, and he spent years trying to defend himself. Being articulate, he became well-known in legal circles when fighting for his rights. As Greg Clark’s client, Richard was quickly focused upon by the police as a suspect in his 2008 murder partly because the police investigators also knew Richard from his past. The Clark murder is now an official unsolved case, and police have found no evidence linking Richard to the murder, but he continues to be haunted by suspicion which the police and legal community created about him following the murder.

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  9. Dale Warren says:

    Agreed, IDOC is a administrative nightmare for the inmates and the corrections officers.The entire greivence proceedure is a set up. By the time any greivence makes it back from Springfield which is usually a 6 month process the standard response is, “All 504 safety rules were followed”. What that has to do with medical issues ,filthy dining areas, over populated prisons, or mental health patients being housed in general population is beyond any reasoning.The counselors do not counsel. Nobody is ever put in for early release unless Springfield initiates that process first.If an inmate has no one on the outside to harass Springfield on a regular basis there wont even be any GOOD TIME awarded. The Governors office has washed its hands when it comes to the department of corrections.They think that dept can run its self and what counselors recommend is all that should be acted on. The counselors dont want the paper work that comes with doing the job so they dont bother with putting any effort into getting the inmates what they are eligable for.

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  10. Dale Warren says:

    I have met and talked with Richard dozens of times. He is one of the most passive people I’ve ever met. Always willing to help anyone,and not a mean bone in his body. He is a vegetarian and wont eat meat because of the cruel ways animals are treated in the food industry. I cant believe he would kill anyone, even a lawyer.

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  11. cworboy1493 says:

    Richard has shown admirable perserverance in his courageous attempts to defend himself against a Rockford legal system which is determined to falsely convict him of Greg Clark’s murder. With pathetically insuffient evidence, they have indicted Richard Wanke in the hope that they can convince a jury with scant circumstantial evidence. Apparently, once police targeted him as prime suspect, they ceased all effort to find other options. As a defense attorney, Mr Clark had the unfortunate opportunity to make a number of enemies.

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