Last year on this day (October 27, 2011), Kelli O'Laughlin, a 14 year-old freshman at Lyons Township High School was murdered. She was stabbed to death in an apparent burglary. This is believed to be the first murder in Indian Head Park history. In loving memory of her, I will post an article from The Daily Mail and ABC News before giving my condolences to her and her family.
Burglar who stabbed 14-year-old Kelli to death in her home sent taunting text messages to her mother after the murder
- Kelli O'Laughlin found dead by her mother in $500,000 Chicago house
- John L. Wilson Jr, charged with her murder, is in court today
- Local officer stopped suspect on night of murder but did not arrest him
- Kelli's funeral in Western Springs, Chicago, to take place this morning
- There had been a spate of burglaries on expensive houses in the area
By Laurie Whitwell
UPDATED: 19:38 GMT, 4 November 2011
UPDATED: 19:38 GMT, 4 November 2011
The man charged with stabbing 14-year-old Kelli O'Laughlin to death when she interrupted a burglary in her suburban home sent taunting text messages to her mother from the girl's stolen cell phone, it has emerged.
John L. Wilson Junior was today in court charged with first-degree murder and residential burglary. He was denied bail by a judge.
Kelli's funeral took place just a few miles away at St. John of the Cross Church in Western Springs, Chicago at around the same time, with mourners lining the road as her coffin passed by.
It was also revealed today that a local police officer stopped Wilson Jr, who was out on parole for armed robbery when the killing took place, on the night of the murder but had no cause to arrest him.
Murder: John L Wilson Junior, 38, right, is in court today charged with the first-degree murder of 14-year-old Kelli O'Laughlin, left, in her suburban Chicago home
Leafy: Wilson Jr allegedly sent taunting text messages to Kelli's mother from the girl's cell phone after the killing at their $500,000 house, pictured
Homicide: Kelli O'Laughlin,was remembered by school friends as a happy, fun girl who always wore a smile
The 38-year-old, whose last known address is on South Lafayette Avenue in Chicago, was taken into custody on Wednesday afternoon, six days after the killing at the O'Laughlin's $500,000 family home in Indian Head Park.
Today Judge Peter A. Felice ordered Wilson Jr, who has spent 17 years of the last two decades behind bars, be held without bond during an appearance at the Cook County courthouse in Bridgeview.
Wilson Jr was dressed in a grey sweatshirt that covered his arm tattoos and said nothing during the hearing, in front of a packed courthouse, the Chicago Sun Times reported.
Those in attendance were told how last Thursday Wilson Jr entered the O'Laughlin's leafy neighbourhood and broke a dining room window of their $500,000 home with a rock wrapped in a red knit cap.
When popular Lyons Township High School freshman Kelli arrived home around 3.40pm, 'she was confronted by John Wilson,' Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said at a news conference.
Wilson Jr grabbed an eight inch carving knife from a butcher's block and stabbed Kelli in the neck, back and chest, before dragging her dead body from the family room into the kitchen, Ms Alvarez said, accordingh to the Chicago Tribune.
He then ransacked the home and fled with a bowl of coins, an iPod Touch and Kelli's phone. The knife was found in large pool of blood in the family.
She was discovered by her mother Brenda at around 5.30pm.
In the hours after the murder, Wilson Jr used the phone to send 'taunting and disturbing' messages to Kelli's mother. 'There are no words to describe how horrific it is,' Ms Alvarez said. She would not reveal the exact nature of the taunts.
Homicide: High school freshman Kelli was stabbed to death after coming home from school last Thursday to encounter a burglary. Detectives believe Wilson Jr is this man, drawn in a police sketch
Stabbing: Miss O'Laughlin, pictured, was found by her mother Brenda in their home at about 5.30pm on Thursday
Sledging: Brenda O'Laughlin's Facebook page has this profile picture. She found her daughter dead
Assistant State’s Attorney Peter Troy said the messages to Kelli's mother Brenda came within hours of her daughter's murder.
He said: 'A horrific crime was committed here, and then to have the mother of the victim subject to taunts by the person who did it ... I can’t describe it.'
'To me that doesn't sound like a random burglary,' Marie Raleigh told Fox News Chicago. ' I'm a little bit concerned that someone could be so vicious and cruel as to do that to the family of this victim. Kelli didn't deserve that and neither did her family.'
'The United States Secret Service was able to track the defendant’s cellphone and Kelli’s cellphone,' Mr Troy said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
'The agents learned these two phones travelled in tandem with one another throughout the city of Chicago.'
Wilson Jr was located Wednesday on the South Side. When found, he had his phone but not Kelli's, the Chicago Tribune reported.
DNA recovered from the knit cap matched Wilson Jr, Alvarez said. Three witnesses identified Wilson in a line-up, she said.
Wilson Jr has an extensive history of criminal violence, including a combined nine years spent in prison for carjacking in 1993 and aggravated battery in 2001.
His most recently received an 11-year sentence for robbert. He was taken into custody in August 2002 and paroled on November 16, 2010, the Chicago Tribune reported.
It has been revealed that at around 8pm on the night of the killing, a Willow Springs police officer responding to another disturbance near the O'Laughlin home stopped Wilson Jr.
Tributes: More than 1,000 people have contributed to Facebook groups, with one suggesting students at her school wear black on Monday in remembrance
Kelli's funeral will take place in Western Springs, Chicago this morning
Plans: Kelli had spoken of growing up in that day's Spanish class, friends said
Suburban home: Kelli was discovered by her mother in the 6300 block of Keokuk Road, Indian head Park, a suburb of Chicago
He said he was walking in the area because his car had broken down and he needed a cab, leaving the officer no cause to arrest him.
That officer was then off work for several days, Fox News Chicago reported, and only saw the composite sketch of the suspect when he returned to service recently.
He reportedly identified Wilson Jr as the man in the drawing, which depicts a black man, 5'8" to 5'9" inches tall, with a medium build. He was was seen in the area at the time wearing a dark, hooded sweatshirt and had a backpack.
Police then traced the driver of the cab the suspect got into after being stopped by the officer at a 7-11 in Willow Springs, for miles from the murder scene.
Investigators arranged for a line-up, in which Wilson Jr was positively identified, Fox News Chicago reported.
The unsuspecting taxi-driver took the suspect to Midway airport where the man paid for his fare with coins. These were not the special gold coins taken from the victim's home however.
Authorities spoke positively about the investigation in a press conference on Thursday night. Sheriff Tom Dart said the case had been presented to the state's attorney's office.
'We feel very confident about the case and the individual in custody,' Sheriff Dart said. Indian Head Park Police Chief Frank Alonzo said: 'I think we can rest a little bit easier tonight.'
Last week, another man was questioned in connection with the murder. That man had been charged in September with another burglary in the area but was later released, the Chicago Tribune reported.
He was not charged over Kelli's killing but the original burglary charge was reinstated and he is now in Cook County Jail, the Chicago Tribue reported.
The murder shook Indian Head Park, a leafy community of roughly 3,800, and numerous online tribute groups attracting thousands have been set up. A memorial fund has also been started.
Kelli's father, John O'Laughlin, said on Wednesday that family members have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support they have received.
ABC7 Exclusive: Family of Kelli O'Laughlin, 14, talks for the first time -- 1 year after her murder
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
It began as a burglary and ended with a 14-year-old girl murdered in her own home.
Her name was Kelli O'Laughlin, and her murder one year ago this month was the first in the history of the small suburb of Indian Head Park.
Kelli's parents have never spoken publicly until now. John and Brenda O'Laughlin don't shy away from talking about their daughter. They view it as one more to way to help them heal.
They continue to hear from Kelli's huge network of friends, and even attended her school's big homecoming football game this past weekend. They're not waiting for a court verdict to provide them with comfort - they are seeking it out themselves.
The ribbons may have faded, but not the memories or the pain.
"We have thousands of pictures of Kelli in all these different situations, but the sad part is: There's no new pictures. There's no new stories," said John O'Laughlin.
Last fall in the O'Laughlin home was like so many others across the city and suburbs. There were memories of summer vacations; a return to school and sports; and, a big homecoming dance: Kelli O'Laughlin's first as a freshman at Lyons Township High School.
Then, on October 27th: a coincidence of time and crime. It was the one week between tennis and track for Kelli, so she was home from school earlier than usual when a burglar broke in.
"If you knew Kelli, Kelli weighed 90 pounds and she wouldn't even hurt a fly," said Brenda O'Laughlin. "If this person would hurt Kelli, this person would hurt anybody."
John Wilson, Jr., a career criminal who had spent 17 of the last 20 years behind bars, is charged with the murder. In the days that followed, police sources say he sent taunting texts from Kelli's phone to her parents.
How and why did a man from the South Side of Chicago allegedly pick the suburban home, 25 miles from his last known address, to rob? It's a question still unanswered.
"Whatever happens, Kelli will never be back and our lives have changed forever. The community has changed forever, and so, it doesn't matter: Why? What? When? Where? Who? Or anything like that - it's just everything has been changed," said Brenda O'Laughlin.
"You have to find a way to be OK, or come to a realization that no matter what happens in the court system, you are where you are. Your daughter is gone, and that's a tough one to come to, because - you know, she's not coming back," said John O'Laughlin.
The O'Laughlins have drawn strength from their community; so much so: despite the horror that happened in this home, they have stayed here, in part, to stand their ground.
"I've tried to visualize going somewhere and no one would know our story. It's sort of hard to start the conversation about what happened, and how traumatic it was. I just don't want to do that," said John O'Laughlin.
"We can't run from something that's happened because then it's like we are the victims," said Brenda O'Laughlin. "We can't be known as the victim - that we had to pick up and leave and stuff. This is our home."
Wednesday on ABC7 News at 5, our conversation with the O'Laughlins continues. Kelli's friends continue to honor her in ways big and small. Despite her death, Kelli continues to impact the lives of those who knew her, as well as those who didn't.
ABC7 Exclusive: Kelli O'Laughlin's family spreads joy in her honor
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
The album is full of beautiful photos, and it seems Kelli never took a bad picture. Nor did she ever know a stranger, according to her family. She considered people she didn't know to be friends she had yet to meet.
"I asked Kelli at one point: 'So who's your best friend?' She said 'I have no best friend, everybody is my friend.' And it was true," Brenda said.
Brenda and her husband, John, could have curled up in a ball and locked the world out when their daughter was murdered. But instead they opened their arms and their hearts.
"We really did not know how many friends she had. What is really nice now is all these friends are reaching out to us. They haven't closed us out and we haven't closed them out," Brenda said.
"That's maybe the best way for me to describe grief: It's a dark cloud. It didn't lift the cloud for me so much as there were other people in it with us," John O'Laughlin, Kelli's father, said.
The O'Laughlins have tried to harness all of the good will and use it to do some good for others. There are have been tennis tournaments and flower sales. A fun run, "Run for Kelli," is planned for next month. Money raised will send children to O'Laughlin's favorite summer camp, pay for college scholarships, and buy uniforms for the local tennis team.
"Our goal is to help out other children just like Kelli always wanted to do."
The pain of Kelli's loss - as surprising as it was senseless - is still a constant. She walked in a robbery, police said, and was killed. The suspect is a career criminal, John Wilson, Jr., who was on parole.
"It's still hard. It's probably going to be hard for the rest of our lives," Brenda said. "Are the edges less sharp? I don't know. Not yet. It's still very hard."