Man convicted of 1985 rape, murder of Downers Grove teen set for clemency hearing

The family of a 16-year-old girl who was brutally murdered in 1985 said they are praying that her killer won’t be freed from prison.

Bridget Drobney was raped and murdered while attending a family wedding in downstate Illinois. But now a prison reform group is working to get clemency for her killer.

"All of us here feel like we’ve been betrayed," said her brother, George Drobney Jr. 

Bridget Drobney’s mother, brother and two sisters say even after 37 years, the pain is still fresh. 

"She had a beautiful smile," said Kelly Weaver, Bridget’s younger sister. "She was loving. She was accepting of everyone."

In July 1985, the Downers Grove North High School senior was with her family in downstate Macoupin County for a wedding when she drove back to their hotel.

That’s when three young men with a rotating light on their car, pretending to be police, pulled her over near a farm field. 

"And that’s where they sexually assaulted her," said Macoupin County State’s Attorney Jordan Garrison. "She was eventually stabbed to death by Mr. Turner, and left out in the field for multiple days until the body was found in the field about four days later."

Robert Turner was sentenced to death for the murder. But in 2003, he got a second chance when former Illinois governor George Ryan commuted all death sentences to life in prison.

On Tuesday, a reform group called the Illinois Prison Project will appear before the Illinois Prisoner Review Board and ask that Turner be given clemency because, they say, he’s a changed man.


Bridget’s family doesn’t buy it. 

"That’s innate evil," said Jamie Tsambikou, Bridget’s sister. "The thing that he did to my sister, that doesn’t change."

In a statement, the Illinois Prison Project said:

"We recognize that the clemency process can be deeply traumatic for victims and their loved ones… Mr. Turner has maintained a remarkable disciplinary record throughout his 40 years in prison. In addition, he is deeply committed to Christianity and his petition for clemency is supported by multiple members of the clergy."

"We believe if you are truly sorry that your soul will be saved," George Drobney said. "But in this life, he needs to give penance for the crime that he committed. And walking free is not that."

The Macoupin County State’s Attorneys office will be at Tuesday morning’s hearing to object to clemency, as well as multiple members of the Drobney family. 

Turner will not be at the hearing.