Niles cold case murder solved after nearly 30 years

Niles police explained on Wednesday how they cracked a cold case murder after nearly 30 years.

In 1992, Helen Cardwell was found strangled to death with a sweater in her room at the Leaning Tower YMCA in Niles.

She had moved there in preparation for starting a new job at Lutheran General Hospital.

The case went cold until 2020 when Niles police submitted DNA found on her body to a national database.


The submission led to 72-year-old Richard Sisto, who was living in Texas.

Richard J. Sisto | Chicago police

In August, Niles police traveled to Texas to interview Sisto and last week charged him with Cardwell’s murder.

At a news conference Wednesday, Cardwell’s sister Noca Ervin thanked police for reopening the case.

"I'm so grateful that they decided to reopen this case," Ervin said. "I just appreciate everyone's efforts in solving her murder, and I just again want to say thank you so much."

Sisto remains behind bars in Texas awaiting extradition to Illinois, which police say should happen in the next few weeks.