Weather Updates

Suspect arrested in ’97 killing of 14-year-old girl from Palatine: cops

Amber Creek Palatine photaken Jan. 21 1997 two days before she disappeared. She was 14. Her body was found Feb.

Amber Creek, of Palatine, in a photo taken Jan. 21, 1997, two days before she disappeared. She was 14. Her body was found on Feb. 9, 1997, in a marsh near Burlington, Wis. | Racine Journal Times via AP

storyidforme: 64605587
tmspicid: 23136130
fileheaderid: 11264865
Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: May 8, 2014 10:16AM

RACINE, Wis. — The step-grandmother of a Palatine teenager whose battered body was found in a Racine County marsh 17 years ago told the Chicago Sun-Times on Sunday that she is “so glad” that police say they have arrested the killer.

Deputies in Racine County confirmed Sunday that they had arrested a person whose identity they would not disclose in connection with the death of Amber Creek in 1997.

Sheriff Christopher Schmaling told the Journal Times of Racine that the person is a 36-year-old Illinois man, the Associated Press reported. He said the authorities had “solid, clear and overwhelming evidence” that the suspect was responsible for the slaying.

“Amber was very loved and, unfortunately, very troubled,” said Carol Creek, 66, of Eagle Rock, Mo.

She is the widow of Amber’s late grandfather, Ronald Creek, a former Carpentersville and Countryside Fire Protection District chief.

Carol Creek said Amber’s father, Robert, who lives in Palatine, called her about noon Saturday to tell her that a suspected had been arrested.

“I was so excited,” she said. “Robert was so excited yesterday. . . . He’s excited to finally have justice for his daughter, and we all are.”

She said she hopes the arrest leads to justice for the family, but she noted that “there are so many variables when it comes to trials.”

“I hope this won’t result in sadness,” she said.

“It broke my heart when she came up missing,” Carol Creek said of the 14-year-old. She described Amber as a “typical” teenager who was “fun,” “very vivacious” and “a little bit of a challenge.”

The sheriff said he plans to release more information, including details of the arrest and the suspect’s name, at a news conference Monday.

Amber Creek ran away from a state-run juvenile shelter in Chicago on Jan. 23, 1997. She then attended a party at a motel in Rolling Meadows the week of her death.

She was last seen leaving the party and getting into a luxury car that had a placard reading “mayor” and was driven by a white man in his 30s.

Two weeks later, hunters found her corpse in a marsh in the town of Burlington. She had been beaten, sexually assaulted and suffocated with a plastic bag.

Her body was left posed with an upraised hand that had “Hi” written on her palm. Investigators referred to her as Jane Doe for 16 months until they could determine her name.

Contributing: AP

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.