The gunshot slaying of Wilmette businessman Albert A. Ritter has left village police mystified. "None of the angles to the case has given us anything definite so far," said Sgt. Jerry Van Heltebrake, Wilmette detective in charge of the investigation. He said the biggest difficulty after a day of investigation was the apparent lack of motive. Mr. Ritter, 42, an insurance adjuster, apparently was popular, hard-working, and successful in business. He had no criminal record. The victim's slender, blood soaked body was found slumped in a rented car at 1:55 a.m. Tuesday in front of 412 Wilshire Dr.-a block from his home at 440 Cove Ln. Sgt. Van Heltebrake said Mr. Ritter was shot four times in the head and twice in the left side. Three .38-Caliber bullets were recovered from the body and three passed through, he added. "We found two blood spots and a blood-covered cigar on the floor of his garage," the detective said, speculating that he may have been murdered there. "And he had his house key in his hand when he was found.” But Mrs. Ritter told us she heard no noises at the house all night. "There are contradictions and many possibilities to this thing," he said. "We discounted robbery as a motive after finding $150 in his shirt pocket, $75 in his wallet, and an expensive woman's diamond ring in his pocket. But his family told us that his $1,000 gold watch and a $2,000 man's diamond ring apparently are gone." He said an autopsy revealed that all the shots came from the left side and from close ranger-either from inside the car or from right next to it. Mr. Ritter's body was on the passenger side of the front seat, resting against the door. His entire left side was covered with blood. Sgt. Van Heltebrake said Mr. Ritter was last seen leaving Chef Alberto's Restaurant, 3001 Peterson Av., Chicago, about 40 minutes before he was found. Mr. Ritter had spent the evening playing gin rummy with friends at an unknown place and had gone to the restaurant afterwards, he added. The victim drove away in an auto rented from the Elmwood Ford Motor Inc. in Chicago, which was repairing his own car. The murder was discovered by Policeman Richard Sokolski while on routine patrol. Chief Edwin Whiteside said the patrolman investigated the car because it looked occupied and the right turn signal was flashing, although the lights were off. Sgt. Van Helterbrake said he found no apparent signs of a struggle. "From talking to residents on Wilshire Dr. we think he was shot somewhere else and driven there," he said. One resident, Mrs. Carol Mautner, 413 Wilshire Dr. E., commented, "The first I knew something happened was when police cars drove up." Mr. Ritter and his brother, Louis owned Ritter and Co., 3244 W. Peterson Av., Chicago, an insurance adjustment firm. Albert Ritter had lived in the Hollywood subdivision on Cove Ln. since 1962. The sergeant said Mr. Ritter's death and two recent burglaries of his $40,000 home may be related. Last. Feb. 1, $1,200 worth of cash and rare coins were taken. More than $15,000 in furs and jewelry were stolen Sept. 5. "His insurance activities and the burglaries may reveal some trouble which may be a clue," he said.
Slaying Is 4th This Year
The slaying was the forth in Wilmette this year. Harrison Crouse, 18 shot his parents and sister to death last Jan. 2 and was committed to a mental institution this past summer. The last local murder before that was in 1946. Meanwhile, statements of Mr. Ritter's popularity and friendliness were made by a Chicago lawyer and neighbor. "He was the nicest, quietest, most respected person I've met," said a long-time friend from Chicago.
'Always Had a Smile'
Bernard Rosen, 431 Cove Ln., said Mr. Ritter "always had a smile and a hello when we met on the street, and seemed like a very friendly, personable fellow." Mr. Ritter is survived by his widow, Louise; a son, Leonard, 5; and daughters, Michelle, 2, and Julia, 1. Other survivors include three other brothers, David, Joseph, and Hyman, and his mother, Mrs. Mini Ritter, all of Chicago, and two sisters. Funeral services are scheduled for 10 a.m. today in the Original Weinstein and Sons funeral chapel in Chicago. Burial will be in Shalom Memorial Park, Palatine.