Huffpost Chicago

Joseph Walker Charged In 1983 Rape And Murder Of 77-Year-Old Frieda Fenster

Posted: Updated:

In 1983, 77-year-old Frieda Fenster was running an old family business, Stein's Books and Novelty, in Printer's Row. She sold magic tricks and paraphernalia along with books on the occult and mysterious, in the same shop her grandfather opened in 1885.

But on December 16 of that year, Fenster was found dead in the shop, in what proved to be a horrendous crime: she had allegedly been raped and strangled in a storage room in the back.

Now, Stein's is gone, replaced by condos and restaurants in the now-chic neighborhood. Twenty-seven years later, though, authorities have finally found the man they believe took Fenster's life.

Semen samples taken from the crime scene were processed by the State's Attorney and Chicago Police Cold Case Units, which analyzed them for DNA and compared that with criminal databases, according to the Chicago Tribune.

A match came up: 59-year-old Joseph Walker, already serving a life sentence for a rape he committed in Utah.

Walker denies that he would have committed the crime in question, the Sun-Times reports:

[He] told detectives that he never would have had sex with "an old white lady" or step foot inside a bookstore because "me and books never get along," Assistant State's Attorney Daniel Weiss said.

On Tuesday, Walker appeared in court for Fenster's murder. He wasn't charged with rape because the statute of limitations had expired. But he was ordered held without bond for the murder charges, and his trial will begin soon.

Though her shop is long gone, Fenster's memory lives on with her family, which was glad to see charges finally brought. "My cousin was a wonderful woman and should not have gone that way," said Julian Frazin, a retired Cook County judge and Fenster's cousin, to the Tribune. "If and when (Walker) is found guilty, I'll probably go to the cemetery and let Frieda know."