Mesarchik case marks 5-year anniversary with no arrest

STREATOR, Ill. Wednesday marked the fifth anniversary of his kidnapping and murder.

In 2003, the 7-year-old disappeared from the front yard of his home. The next day, his body was found in the Vermillion River.

The gathering began at 6:30 p.m. If it's difficult for his mother to be out, she doesn't show it and shows great joy of seeing the children of this town grow up. And she says she takes great comfort in seeing that, five years later, so many of them still take time to remember Dalton.

Dalton Mesarchik was seven when he disappeared from front of his home. For some in Streator, the pain is as fresh as if it had happened yesterday.

"I'm amazed that it's been five years. I know for the family it does seem like five years. And what they've gone through is so painful," said Cheryl Finkelstein, Streator resident.

"I think about what he would have been like when he was older, what he would look like, and what he would have been like, really, as a person," said Lauren Finkelstein, victim's friend.

Dalton's mom and others gathered as they have every year. There were candles and balloons, prayers and song. A slide show shared pictures from Dalton's seven years of life. The mother of Dalton Mesarchik releases one balloon for each year her son lived before he was abducted and killed.

The boy disappeared from his front yard. He was waiting for a ride to Bible study. Dalton's body was found the next day in the Vermillion River just south of town.

Who abducted him and why? They remain unanswered questions and open wounds for those who loved him.

"I'm glad I have my faith. There are days you don't want to get out of bed. And I have faith. And I have prayer. And I have trust in God that maybe tomorrow," said Michelle Mesarchik.

State police say this investigation remains a high priority. If they have new leads, they certainly are not sharing them.

"To the monster that did this, I want to ask why," Michelle Mesarchik told the group in tears.

No answer will be good enough but for five years residents of this small town have been waiting for an explanation.

Dalton would have turned 13 next month. His friends and former classmates made signs for the vigil, signs that reveal how this murder changed this community, the lessons learned about the dangers children face even in a small town like Streator. Wonder what's on kids' minds here? Just ask Dalton's friends.

"Just think about stuff like kidnappings and there's a lot of that on web sites and everything. And just pops into my head," said Lauren Finkelstein.

"You still kind of think it's a small town so it could happen to other people here, too, and you don't want that to happen," said Kaitlin Gonzalez, victim's friend.

While Dalton's mom read the names of other child murder victims, a state police investigator videotaped the face of every person in the crowd.

"The investigation into the death of Dalton Mesarchik is not a cold case," the trooper told the group.

"It could be anybody. Just to let you know, it could be somebody here tonight. How do you know?" said Michelle Mesarchik.

While these gatherings offer support for Dalton's family, they're also a reminder of all the memories missed.

"It makes you wonder, you know, what type of kid he'd be now and what, you know, would be his interests and what he'd be excelling in school in his classes," said George Scott, Dalton's father.
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