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Man accused of killing wife says cremation destroyed evidence

Lawyers for a Vernon Hills man accused of killing his wife are seeking to have the charges dropped because they say that the cremation of the woman’s body destroyed a key piece of evidence.

Defense attorneys for Ronald Stolberg, 48, asked Lake County Judge Fred Foreman Monday to dismiss his indictment, arguing that Stolberg and his attorney was never notified that his wife Rachel’s body was to be cremated, which occurred before the defense had an opportunity to have their own autopsy performed.

Rachel Stolberg’s body was cremated within three to four days of when she was found dead last June 8 but “may have contained material that would have tended to negate the defendant’s guilt,” defense attorney Kevin Rosner said.

Ronald Stolberg is charged with killing Rachel Stolberg, 54, in their home in the 300 block of Farmington Lane in Vernon Hills, authorities said. They alleged that Ronald Stolberg, who is charged with first-degree murder, held his wife face-down on the ground with such force that she suffocated.

Assistant State’s Attorney Scott Hoffert said Stolberg was arrested prior to his wife’s cremation, and his attorney did not submit a motion to preserve the body.

“Had Rachel been buried rather than cremated, I think they’d be asking to exhume the body, and I don’t think that would be granted,” Hoffert said.

If authorities had not released the body to the funeral home, he said, they would have “fail(ed) to give a murder victim dignity in death.”

Foreman is expected to rule on the motion on March 12. Stolberg is out of jail on a $3 million bond.

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