Friday, October 28, 2011
Police are questioning a man in connection with the fatal stabbing of a 14-year-old girl who was found by her mother Thursday afternoon in their Indian Head Park home, authorities said.
Police found signs of forced entry at the home in the 6300 block of Keokuk Road and suspect Kelli O'Laughlin's death may have been the result of a burglary gone bad, a source said.
Police took the man into custody in Chicago late Thursday and were still questioning him, sources said. No charges have been filed, but prosecutors are in contact with investigators, a law enforcement source said.
Indian Head Park Police Chief Frank Alonzo was asked about a possible suspect during a brief news conference this afternoon and would only say, "That's under investigation."
Alonzo did say police believe Kelli came home from school between 4:45 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Thursday and "confronted what we believe was a burglary." She was later found by her mother.
The police chief said officers have been able to draw up a sketch of a person of interest based on a description from a witness. It depicts a black male, 25 to 35 years old, medium build, wearing a hoodie and a dark sweatshirt. There was some kind of pattern on his back, Alonzo said.
He said there had been six or seven burglaries in the town about a month ago, and those cases have been closed with three arrests.
"We're going to work our hardest to bring this person to justice," Alonzo said. "We're giving it everything we have.
"Our sympathy goes out to the family," he added. "This is a tragedy for a young person to walk into their home and have this happen."
Alonzo's remarks were the first extended public comments from police about the case. Earlier today, neighbors said they were angry over the lack of information and not knowing if their children were at risk.
Donna Yelnick, 44, who was going around the neighborhood tying white garbage bags as ribbons around trees and light poles, said: "We're starting to get a little upset that police aren't telling us what's going on."
She said her daughter, a junior at Lyons Township High School, "is really scared. It's got to be hard for kids to process."
Carmen Lopez, 45, who lives two blocks from the O'Laughlin residence, said "we have the right to know what's happening in our neighborhood," adding that her first-grade daughter spent a sleepless night.
Pat Sector, 45, said her 11-year-old daughter "went to school in tears this morning."
She noted the slaying occurred near a park where neighborhood children play. "I'm very angry about this," she said.
Paris Hale, 15, and her mother, Mollie, also were hanging white ribbons throughout the neighborhood this morning in honor of Kelli. Paris is a sophomore at Kelli's school.
"We decided it'd be a way to help out and honor her," Paris said. "She was really cute and friendly and had a lot of friends. She loved tennis and traveled a lot."
Parent Kate Brodlo, who lives near the slain girl, joined them. Brodlo said Kelli graduated from LaGrange Highlands Elementary School, where her four children also attend.
"Dropoff (at the school) this morning was really hard," she said. "A lot of parents and children were crying."
Lyons Township High School District 204 was not holding classes today, but grief counselors and social workers were available at the school's south campus, 4900 S. Willow Springs Road, Western Springs.
Officials said the facility was only open to students, parents and staff today to make it as welcoming as possible for those who need support.
Students who showed up this morning were were ushered in by side doors by staff. Students began arriving in groups of two or three, many in sweatpants and sweatshirts – silent as they entered the building. LTHS support staff was stationed in the library and prepared to see students either individually or in groups.
This morning, friends of Kelli mourned her on Facebook.
"I cant even tell you how much i am going to miss you," one friend posted. "we have been through so much together and i hate that i didnt even get to say goodbye. you were always my friend kelli. we were the kellis. i remember all kinds of memories we had together. from crummy mummy jokes to me spilling nail polish on your carpet."
"It was a pervildge being your friend, neighbor and anything else! You helped with so mch being truthful and helpful. A beautiful soal like yours shouldnt have been killed. Your in heaven with no doubt! I will alseay smile thinking of you! ♥ rest in peace"
And one more:
"I remember in Gym, and it was the last day of flagfootball, and she brought in the black paint stuff, and she put it all over her face. ahha. She was such a sweet and happy girl. RIP Beautiful girl♥"