'Witnesses' Help Investigators With Description of Suspect in Chicago-Area Store Shooting

Police describe the man suspected of shooting five women to death in a robbery attempt at a clothing store down to the light green beads on the braid in his hair and the rhinestones on the back pocket of his jeans.

But they don't know where he is.

Witnesses helped investigators compile a description of the gunman, according to officials who refused to confirm news reports that a sixth victim had survived.

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A Kentucky family says their daughter was shot in the neck but survived the attack at the Lane Bryant clothing store in Tinley Park, according to a published report.

The gunman bound all six women and then shot at their heads during the Saturday attack — but one bullet hit the surviving woman's neck, The (Madisonville, Ky.) Messenger reported, citing a couple identified as the woman's parents.

The Associated Press is not naming the woman or her parents because authorities have not confirmed their information.

Tinley Park Police Sgt. T.J. Grady said Monday at a news conference that police had a detailed description of the suspect. But Grady declined to say how investigators got the description or whether it may have come from the woman who survived the attack at the strip mall southwest of downtown Chicago.

"I cannot, OK? The minute I'm able to confirm anything ... there's so much misinformation going on right now, the minute we're able to confirm anything, we will do that for you," Grady said.

Tinley Park Police Chief Mike O'Connell has said that the investigation has been "extremely sensitive" and that "we need to keep ... information confidential."

At the strip mall, mourners placed bouquets of flowers on a growing pile on a curb in front of the Lane Bryant. Five white crosses included the names and photos of the murdered women.

The storefront remained cordoned off by yellow police tape as dozens of investigators congregated.

The lone survivor, whose full name The Messenger withheld because the gunman remained at large, is a student and worked weekends at the plus-size clothing store, the woman's parents told the newspaper.

She was released from the hospital and then spoke with investigators, according to the mother, who told the newspaper she has spoken to her daughter by phone. She added that she understood her daughter was the only witness.

The woman's parents retired two years ago and moved to Kentucky from Illinois, the newspaper reported.

Messages left at the couple's home in Kentucky and their daughter's home in Illinois were not immediately returned Monday. No one was at the woman's Illinois home and another family member declined to comment when reached by The Associated Press.

Federal authorities said Monday they are assisting the Tinley Park department's search for the gunman.

"They have asked for our assistance, which we're providing," said Ross Rice, an FBI spokesman for the agency's Chicago office. He declined to detail the agency's involvement, including whether it was assisting the investigation, the manhunt or both.

The dead have been identified as Connie R. Woolfolk, 37, of Flossmoor; Sarah T. Szafranski, 22, of Oak Forest; Carrie H. Chiuso, 33, of Frankfort; Rhoda McFarland, 42, of Joliet; and Jennifer L. Bishop, 34, of South Bend, Ind.

A $55,000 reward — most of which is being paid for by Lane Bryant's parent company, Charming Shoppes Inc. — was being offered for information leading to the suspect's arrest.

Charming Shoppes spokeswoman Gayle Coolick said Monday she wasn't immediately sure how many employees were working during the robbery or how much cash was in the store at the time.

"But certainly it was early in the day so one would assume that cash levels were pretty low," she said.

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