our lady of the angels fire 95 students killed 50th anniversary

On Dec. 1, 1958, a fire consumed Our Lady of the Angels grade school on the West Side of Chicago, killing 92 children and three nuns. Full Story
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Theo

Montgomery Village, MD

#95 Feb 18, 2013
If you really have to know the name of the juvenile who confessed to the OLA arson - and I am not criticizing you for wanting to know it - you can find enough info in the boy's confession to identify him with online resources.

I understand the sentiment and perfectly valid theory that wants to keep his name confidential but I also understand those who believe that in the interests of history there is also a compelling interest in revealing the name for discussion.

Researcher1

Park Ridge, IL

#96 Feb 18, 2013
The confession does provide plenty of details regarding the confessed arsonist. It is telling that none of the students attending OLA at the time of the fire have shared his name. Surely the students in room 206 were able to piece it together.
Researcher1

Park Ridge, IL

#97 Feb 18, 2013
grounded in reality wrote:
in more recent GNUS several thousand black people have been shot and killed on the south side of Chicago.
those homicides have gone unsolved so many murders go unpunished.
law enforcement should take a 25% pay cut until the back log of unsolved murders are brought up to court.
ending with convictions.
somebody on the south side got the 411 law enforcement needs the cops just get out of the coffee shop and on the case load.
What has this to do with the OLA fire? While I feel for any murder victim, this doesn't exactly seem the right forum for your concerns.
Ann

Chicago, IL

#98 Feb 18, 2013
My father was a Chicago cop at the time of the fire. He helped carry kids out of the building. We have talked about the fire at various times over the years. If there had been rumors that one of the kids had set the fire, I think he would have been in a position to hear. He never intimated anything like that.

30 years ago, in the late 70's and early 80's I became friends with one of the boys who was burned in the fire. Given his age, the group initially thought his burns were from VietNam. I knew him reasonably well for a few years. There was no mention that the fire had been set by someone who was not pursued or charged. As a survivor, that sort of story would have been known.

I have no idea what classroom he was in.
Teacher

Saint Louis, MO

#99 Feb 18, 2013
How can it be libel if he is dead? I understand from the book that every student interviewed named him. He isn't listed on any class rosters. What ever happened to him? Was he rehabilitated? Did he ever show remorse? His confession shows he certainly had a troubled psyche, not that that is any excuse at all for what he did. As a teacher I wonder if there's any hope for children like him.
Researcher1

Park Ridge, IL

#100 Feb 24, 2013
Ann wrote:
My father was a Chicago cop at the time of the fire. He helped carry kids out of the building. We have talked about the fire at various times over the years. If there had been rumors that one of the kids had set the fire, I think he would have been in a position to hear. He never intimated anything like that.
30 years ago, in the late 70's and early 80's I became friends with one of the boys who was burned in the fire. Given his age, the group initially thought his burns were from VietNam. I knew him reasonably well for a few years. There was no mention that the fire had been set by someone who was not pursued or charged. As a survivor, that sort of story would have been known.
I have no idea what classroom he was in.
Did you read the book? The confession is in the back of the book. The thought at the time ,because he was 13 years old when he confessed,started the fire at age 10, could not be prosecuted because of his age at the time of the fire, and later recanted although he knew details of the fire that were not released, the judge did nothing. The judge was afraid there would be repercussions if his identity was released. He was arrested and charged later that year for three fires he started at age 13 in Cicero and was sent to a juvenile facility in Michigan.One of the three fires he set, was in the basement of the home he lived at.
Theo

Washington, DC

#101 Feb 24, 2013
Teacher wrote:
How can it be libel if he is dead? I understand from the book that every student interviewed named him. He isn't listed on any class rosters. What ever happened to him? Was he rehabilitated? Did he ever show remorse? His confession shows he certainly had a troubled psyche, not that that is any excuse at all for what he did. As a teacher I wonder if there's any hope for children like him.
You're absolutely correct in that there is no libel case to be made after death. I'm not sure what his surviving mother could do - I believe she is still alive or at least she was recently - but a story about the juvenile would almost necessarily discuss her.

I do have respect for the student victims who have refused to publicly name the suspect - at least not on the internet. I think some of the hesitancy in naming him on the official OLA site may be influenced by the fact that current or maybe current moderators were children of the falsely accused janitor. Knowing how false accusations can hurt and even destroy lives may have made them reluctant to name anyone without a conviction.

In any event with info from the juvenile confession I was able to find him on the Social Security Death Index - a date was changed a spec but all the rest of the info fit perfectly and led me to find his son's death as well. He had a half sibling since his mom was pregnant at the time of the confession. I think I found that person as well.

It's always been tempting for me to post what I have uncovered but in the need I feel it is not up to me. It is for those victims' families and the survivors themselves to do that.
Researcher1

Park Ridge, IL

#102 Feb 25, 2013
There are 10 states that have statutes that protect the defamation of the dead. Local ordinances to protect the name of the dead also apply in select states. I don't know if California or Illinois have local ordinances re: the dead and libel/slander.
bonnie

Schererville, IN

#104 Sep 22, 2013
Theo wrote:
<quoted text>
You're absolutely correct in that there is no libel case to be made after death. I'm not sure what his surviving mother could do - I believe she is still alive or at least she was recently - but a story about the juvenile would almost necessarily discuss her.
I do have respect for the student victims who have refused to publicly name the suspect - at least not on the internet. I think some of the hesitancy in naming him on the official OLA site may be influenced by the fact that current or maybe current moderators were children of the falsely accused janitor. Knowing how false accusations can hurt and even destroy lives may have made them reluctant to name anyone without a conviction.
In any event with info from the juvenile confession I was able to find him on the Social Security Death Index - a date was changed a spec but all the rest of the info fit perfectly and led me to find his son's death as well. He had a half sibling since his mom was pregnant at the time of the confession. I think I found that person as well.
It's always been tempting for me to post what I have uncovered but in the need I feel it is not up to me. It is for those victims' families and the survivors themselves to do that.
I was 10 years old and went to St George Catholic school , it could of been my school.All these years, the newspaper front pages and the pictures of all the children that died still haunt me.My neighbor behind me had a cousin that died and how frightened all of us were.The fact that the grown man on his death bed, would not deny he caused the fire, is admitting guilt.Any one innocent, would deny with their last final breath.For justice sake, the mother knows for sure.If she is still alive, she should come forward, so we can all have peace.
Say_What

Seoul, Korea

#105 Oct 5, 2013
Researcher1 wrote:
There are 10 states that have statutes that protect the defamation of the dead. Local ordinances to protect the name of the dead also apply in select states. I don't know if California or Illinois have local ordinances re: the dead and libel/slander.
If this happened today, that mf-er's picture would be on the front page of every newspaper in America - EVEN IF HE WAS STILL ALIVE.
It isn't "defamation of the dead" to say that they were SUSPECTED of something.
Was there a big mystery about who was suspected of the Oklahoma City bombing? Did we have to wait for a verdict to hear McVeigh's name?
How about Columbine? One of the shooters was 17, and neither one of them lived to stand trial. Shouldn't we all be protecting their identities?
And let us not forget Lee Harvey Oswald. Never convicted of shooting anyone. Lee Harvey who? We should really stop using his name in connection with JFK.
Researcher1

Des Plaines, IL

#107 Oct 25, 2013
Say_What wrote:
<quoted text>
If this happened today, that mf-er's picture would be on the front page of every newspaper in America - EVEN IF HE WAS STILL ALIVE.
It isn't "defamation of the dead" to say that they were SUSPECTED of something.
Was there a big mystery about who was suspected of the Oklahoma City bombing? Did we have to wait for a verdict to hear McVeigh's name?
How about Columbine? One of the shooters was 17, and neither one of them lived to stand trial. Shouldn't we all be protecting their identities?
And let us not forget Lee Harvey Oswald. Never convicted of shooting anyone. Lee Harvey who? We should really stop using his name in connection with JFK.
He was 10 years old at the time of the fire and was protected by law. He's dead.
Theo

Arlington, VA

#109 Oct 26, 2013
That's not the name he spent the rest of his life with. Nor is that he name of his children.
bonnie

Schererville, IN

#111 Dec 11, 2013
55 years, long enough
time to Unseal records
TAC

South Bend, IN

#112 Mar 3, 2014
The boy who confessed to John Reid in 1962 was almost certainly Philip Presti dob 10/3/1948 and in 1958 his name was Philip Decker. He died 9/3/2004. Yes, the Church bears tremendous responsibility for the subsequent cover up and failure to bring healing and closure to the many who were victimized. It is also a strong possibility that this cover up led to the deaths of at least 4 more victims in another fire in
Cicero. Do any research on the matter and you will find the cover up began immediately and deliberately. Apparently several students gave Philip's name to investigators within days of the fire to no avail and Rev. McManus made no secret of the fact that his specific role was to keep the Diocese from being sued. He was rewarded for his successful efforts by being named a Bishop years later. The libel threat is a smokescreen. You cannot libel the dead. Even if it were against the law, you can can't libel someone with the truth and any subsequent lawsuit just might bring the truth to light.
Theo

Alexandria, VA

#113 Mar 3, 2014
TAC wrote:
The boy who confessed to John Reid in 1962 was almost certainly Philip Presti dob 10/3/1948 and in 1958 his name was Philip Decker. He died 9/3/2004. Yes, the Church bears tremendous responsibility for the subsequent cover up and failure to bring healing and closure to the many who were victimized. It is also a strong possibility that this cover up led to the deaths of at least 4 more victims in another fire in
Cicero. Do any research on the matter and you will find the cover up began immediately and deliberately. Apparently several students gave Philip's name to investigators within days of the fire to no avail and Rev. McManus made no secret of the fact that his specific role was to keep the Diocese from being sued. He was rewarded for his successful efforts by being named a Bishop years later. The libel threat is a smokescreen. You cannot libel the dead. Even if it were against the law, you can can't libel someone with the truth and any subsequent lawsuit just might bring the truth to light.
Your research results of the names and dates reflects my own research. I must agree with you that the later deaths he appears to have been responsible for in Cicero could have been prevented had action been taken immediately. I have no knoweldge of names given by students or actions or motives of the Diocese.

It is a history book waiting to be written.
bonnie

Schererville, IN

#114 Mar 30, 2014
TAC wrote:
The boy who confessed to John Reid in 1962 was almost certainly Philip Presti dob 10/3/1948 and in 1958 his name was Philip Decker. He died 9/3/2004. Yes, the Church bears tremendous responsibility for the subsequent cover up and failure to bring healing and closure to the many who were victimized. It is also a strong possibility that this cover up led to the deaths of at least 4 more victims in another fire in
Cicero. Do any research on the matter and you will find the cover up began immediately and deliberately. Apparently several students gave Philip's name to investigators within days of the fire to no avail and Rev. McManus made no secret of the fact that his specific role was to keep the Diocese from being sued. He was rewarded for his successful efforts by being named a Bishop years later. The libel threat is a smokescreen. You cannot libel the dead. Even if it were against the law, you can can't libel someone with the truth and any subsequent lawsuit just might bring the truth to light.
They say its too late for justice but the archdiocese is still in litigation over pedophile priests from the 60's and the 70's. Sad, but at least all those children are alive today.No justice for all the children and families involved. David Cowan author of the book To Sleep With the Angels will be appearing at the Blue Island Library April 15, it will be interesting to hear what he has to say, since he did the job that so many paid investigators failed miserably to get.
Vic

Alton, IL

#115 Mar 31, 2014
bonnie wrote:
<quoted text>
They say its too late for justice but the archdiocese is still in litigation over pedophile priests from the 60's and the 70's. Sad, but at least all those children are alive today.No justice for all the children and families involved. David Cowan author of the book To Sleep With the Angels will be appearing at the Blue Island Library April 15, it will be interesting to hear what he has to say, since he did the job that so many paid investigators failed miserably to get.
Glad to see you moved over here.... The Olafire site is a waste of time and I'm pretty well fed up with their smartass comments. That is their own little pity party and they can have it...
bonnie

Schererville, IN

#117 Apr 3, 2014
I don't get it Vic, with the obvious cover ups, both the City of Chicago, and the archdiocese, they would rather protect the identity of Philip, to protect, what? his one surviving son, who is homeless and lives to grow his own pot? then to get justice. If my loved one died in that fire, I would fight with my last breath for justice.Can't tell me that its over, someone could get get all the records opened, Philip's mental records released, and announce to the world, "they have solved the case" Reminds me a little of the OJ Simpson case, Ron Goldman's family will never see money, but just the fact that the civil jury awarded them with the honor that they found OJ responsible.Please don't desert me on OLA site, They got rid of anyone that disagreed with them and I am not going anywhere.I will contribute my thoughts, ignore their recipes and continue fighting.I will meet with Cowan and persuade him to write a screenplay.Please go on the the site and e mail me, would look forward to it.
kathy

Chicago, IL

#118 Jun 6, 2014
the fact that he was never prosecuted for the ola fire, did lead to four additional deaths in the cicero bowling alley fire. this kid was really messed up psychologically. how a mother can tell a young child that he was the product of her being raped is amazing to me. no wonder he had psyche problems. and the step father beating him all the time shows their inability to help or control his behavior. I don't believe they were unaware he was involved in the ola fire. they were probably worried about their reputation raising this little monster, tried to keep him from being incarserated, possibly worried about being sued. they would have to be clueless as fires kept happening whenever this kid was around. very sad for the victims and survivors of the ola fire. you never forget the kids you grew up with.
SouthSide in the fifties

Saint Joseph, IL

#119 Jul 29, 2014
All the records should be opened, so that there can finally be resolution and closure...it is long overdue!!!!!!!!

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