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Los Angeles man arrested in 1992 murder of Skokie teen

David Chereck was killed 1992. His body was found MortGrove forest preserve. |  Sun-Times File Photo

David Chereck was killed in 1992. His body was found in a Morton Grove forest preserve. | Sun-Times File Photo

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Updated: August 26, 2014 6:24AM

Esther Chereck waited 22 years for an arrest to be made in the 1992 murder of her 15-year-old son, David.

On Wednesday, she learned a Los Angeles man had been arrested in the killing.

Cook County and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officers arrested Robert Serritella, 71, at his home on Monday morning, acccording to a statement from the Cook County Sheriff’s office. Serritella waived extradition and will be held without bail, according to L.A. County District Attorney Greg Risling. A hearing is set for Aug. 25.

He was identified as the suspect in the killing of David Chereck after Cook County sheriff’s police spoke with witnesses and analyzed reports from the investigation, the sheriff’s office said.

“I don’t know how I feel right now,” Chereck, of Skokie, said Thursday after Cook County sheriff’s cold-case investigators told her about the arrest. “I can’t tell you very much. I’m just in limbo.”

She said she was “absolutely” relieved if investigators found the person who strangled her son, David, with his own winter scarf and left his body in nearby Linne Woods Forest Preserve in Morton Grove.

David, a Niles West High School sophomore, was last seen alive by a friend about 10:15 p.m. on Jan. 1, 1992, near a 7-Eleven store in Skokie.

His body was found at 7:35 a.m. the next day by a man walking his dog in the 9100 block of McVickers Avenue in Morton Grove. The boy’s shoes, jacket and about $30 in cash were missing.

An autopsy found that David had been strangled with his own scarf. There were no signs that he had been beaten or sexually attacked and no signs of a struggle. Cook County Forest Preserve Police had indicated early in the investigation that the murderer may have been a person or people the teenager knew.

The investigation revealed that Chereck left his home in the 5300 block of Crain Street after dinner on New Year’s Day. He met friends at a bowling alley in downtown Skokie.

After playing video games with his friends, he left the bowling alley at 10 p.m. He was later seen at a 7-Eleven store at Gross Point Road and Lincoln Avenue, about six blocks from his home.

His parents reported him missing at 6:20 a.m. on Jan. 2, about an hour before his body was found.

Through the years, authorities continued to investigate the case, but leads dried up. About two months after David was killed, his father, Allan Chereck, expressed frustration over the lack of progress in the investigation. Six months later, authorities reported they may have had a suspect, but it never led to an arrest.

Allan Chereck died in 2000, never knowing who had taken the life of his only son.

On Thursday, the Chereck home was dark and no one answered the door. Neighbors on Crain Street said they didn’t know about the case or had no comment on it. The Cherecks had moved to Skokie from Chicago four to five years before David’s murder to protect him from the violence and gangs of the city, his parents told the Pioneer Press in 1992.

David read and wrote Hebrew fluently. He was active in Congregation B’nai Emunah, and his mother said he was a committed Jew.

When an elderly couple moved in next door to the Chereck’s Skokie home, David mowed their lawn and shoveled snow without asking for or taking money. He had planned to attend Harvard, go into business and earn enough money to take care of his parents.

A couple of weeks after the killing, Pioneer Press reporter Nick Katz sat down with David’s parents, who said they hoped the murderer would be found. At the time, Esther Chereck said that it would be “justice” for the killer to receive the death penalty.

Contributing: Mike Isaacs

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