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Man charged in 1992 murder of woman in Niles is back in Illinois; ordered held without bond

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A man charged with the 1992 murder of a woman in Niles is back in Illinois and behind bars following a court appearance Tuesday.

Judge Anthony Calabrese ordered Richard J. Sisto, 73, held without bond during the Nov. 23 hearing at the Cook County Courthouse in Skokie, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office said.

Sisto remains in Cook County Jail custody, according to the sheriff's department, and is scheduled to be back in court on Dec. 8.

An attorney was not listed for Sisto.

Sisto, who was previously in police custody in Harris County, Texas before being transferred back to Illinois, has been charged with first degree murder in the 1992 strangulation death of 35-year-old Helen Cardwell at the Leaning Tower YMCA residential facility, 6300 W. Touhy Ave., in Niles, police said.

Cardwell's body was found in her room at the YMCA on Nov. 8 of that year. The case soon went cold, police said.

Last year, a decision by Niles police to reopen the case led to the discovery of DNA in evidence that was collected from the murder scene and a DNA profile was entered into the national database known as CODIS, said Det. Sgt. Mike Boba of the Niles Police Department during an Oct. 27 press conference.

Several months later, it was learned that the DNA was a match to Richard Sisto, a former Lake in the Hills resident who had prior convictions for sexual assault in Texas, police said.

Niles police reports obtained by Pioneer Press/Chicago Tribune indicate that at the time of the murder, Sisto had worked at a Touhy Avenue Jewel-Osco store located just blocks from the Leaning Tower YMCA.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety criminal records, Sisto was convicted of aggravated sexual assault in Texas in November 1977. While in prison, Sisto was accused of raping a female prison guard in 1984, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Court records show Sisto was paroled in April 1992 and he returned to Illinois — just seven months before Cardwell's murder.

Sisto was in the custody of Harris County Texas authorities on a parole violation warrant when an arrest warrant for the Niles murder charge was issued in Cook County on Oct. 15, 2021.

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