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Trial opens in death of McHenry County teen whose body has never been found

Mario Casciaro

Mario Casciaro

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Updated: February 26, 2012 8:15AM

After 17-year-old Brian Carrick vanished in 2002 from the McHenry County grocery store where he stocked shelves, co-worker Mario Casciaro made a chilling claim.

“He said, “I make people disappear,” McHenry County prosecutor Michael Combs contended Tuesday, recounting what Casciaro allegedly told a friend who questioned him about Carrick’s fate.

As Casciaro’s murder trial opened, prosecutors said his own words and his own friends tie him to the mysterious disappearance and presumed death of the teenager from Johnsburg, a village of about 7,000 people in rural McHenry County.

“That’s what he did. He made Brian Carrick disappear,” Combs said of Casciaro, noting nine years after Carrick’s Dec. 20, 2002, disappearance the only trace of him ever found are spatters of his blood in a cooler and hallway at Val’s Foods.

Casciaro, now 28, worked with Carrick at the store and supplied marijuana to the teen, who sold the drug to other local teens.

When Carrick didn’t turn over money he owed, Casciaro recruited co-worker Shane Lamb to be “the muscle of the operation” to coerce the teen into paying, Combs said.

Confronting Carrick in a produce cooler at the store, Casciaro ordered Lamb to get the money, Combs told jurors hearing the case.

Lamb punched the teen, knocking him out, but Lamb “has no clue” about what ultimately happened to Carrick because Casciaro quickly told him to leave the room, Combs contended.

Casciaro was charged with Carrick’s murder in 2010 after Lamb implicated him in the killing as part of a plea deal that saw Lamb receive a six-year prison term for an unrelated drug offense, but gave him immunity from being prosecuted for Carrick’s death.

Though the 240-pound Lamb is expected to be a key prosecution witness, Combs acknowledged he has a history of violent crimes, but said that’s why Casciaro used him to threaten Carrick.

“You don’t bring Mother Teresa to a shake down, you bring a bad-ass like Shane Lamb,” Combs said.

Two other friends are expected to testify that Casciaro talked about what happened to Carrick, including Chris Amen, who told authorities that Casciaro boasted about making the teen “disappear.”

Defense attorney Brian Telander ripped Lamb, claiming he concocted his statements as part of a plea deal that gives him a “free murder” while holding him responsible for only a lesser drug deal.

And Lamb has offered more than five conflicting claims about Carrick’s disappearance, including telling a McHenry County grand jury under oath he knew nothing about the killing.

“If Shane Lamb says it’s sunny outside, you better bring your umbrella,” Telander told jurors.

Amen and another man expected to testify against Casciaro also are convicted felons whose claims are suspect, Telander said.

William Carrick testified he last saw his son alive “early in the evening” of Dec. 20, 2002, when the teen left the family home to go to a nearby video store.

Brian, a high school junior when he disappeared, was the 11th of the family’s 14 children.

“We had 14. Now we have 13,” William Carrick said.

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