Residents line streets for murdered girl's funeral

November 4, 2011 3:25:35 PM PDT
Hand in hand, hundreds of people lined the streets Friday morning for the funeral procession of Kelli O'Laughlin.

She was remembered as a sweet girl who could light up a room. Her brother, a state police officer, spoke at the service.

The remembrances Danny Douglas shared about his sister Kelli were both touching and emotional. And, while he urged those at her funeral to continue her legacy by loving each other, a community struggled to cope with the violent tragedy that claimed her life.

White balloons symbolized the grief felt by a community which came together in remembrance of Kelli O'Laughlin.

"I didn't know her that much, but after it happened all I heard was good things about her," said area resident Clair Cornell.

"Hearing the stories about her, she seems like a really good person," said area resident Nikki Hilbrach.

Many of Kelli's friends, along with those who didn't know her, lined the streets, neighbors and strangers holding hands as her hearse passed by.

Lyons Township High School senior Olivia Orrico and her mother Carol went to Kelli's wake and wanted to show their support for her family Friday.

"When I was talking to her dad, I said she must have been amazing. He actually teared up," Orrico said.

At the end of the mile-long funeral procession, some 1,500 mourners gathered at St. John of the Cross Parish church where the 14-year-old was eulogized.

"She was never in a bad mood, it seems like, and always someone to be around with," said Brian Hickey, Kelli's friend.

At the emotional funeral service, the teen's older brother Daniel Douglas spoke for his parents, sister and two brothers. He reminisced about his sister's contagious joy, her passion for tennis and the love and friendship she often gave to others. "The service was beautiful. The kids were singing. It breaks your heart to watch these girls grow up and go through this at such a young age," said family friend Joseph Lyons.

Fourteen-year-old Kelli O'Laughlin was murdered in her family's southwest suburban Indian Head Park home a week ago after police say she interrupted a burglar.

"I can't even imagine a mother losing her--it's horrible. I just want justice and safety for the neighborhood," said neighborhood resident Patti Stark.

The sound of a lone bagpiper could be heard as Kelli's family prepared to say a final goodbye.

Eleven-year-old Kayla May remembers her friend as the girl who lit up a room with her sparkling eyes and delightful energy.

"I hope all of the hearts of those people today remember her, because she was just a really nice and loving girl," said May.

On the back of Kelli's funeral program, the O'Laughlin family thanked the community for the outpouring of support they have received in the last week, writing, "The family is so grateful to everyone who has offered their support and condolences in this difficult time."

It is believed that in addition to prayers and readings, they celebrated Kelli's life with music. Her family chose the song "For Good" from the musical Wicked, which features lyrics about how people can change each other's lives.


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