Funeral held for members of slain family

April 30, 2009 Friends and family of the Engelhardts' arrived early to pay respects and attend the victory funeral service celebration for Alan William Engelhardt and his 18-year-old daughter Laura Elise at St. Peter Lutheran Church and School in Schaumburg.

Church members say the family was very active in the church and had just been there for Easter services. Their children were an important part of this Christian community.

"They were a great example of what a Christian family should be like. When they go ahead and something like this happens, and you have neighbors coming to the church to tell us what happened, it kind of sets the tone of where you knew their faith was and what was important to them," said Don Buche, family friend and church member.

Thursday's services are for two of the three members of the family who were murdered in their Hoffman Estates home two weeks ago.

Laura, a Conant High School student, sang in the church choir. Hundreds of her school classmates attended the services.

"It was very difficult. As soon as I finished singing I had to break down. Because I know she's gone from the earth. But she's in heaven," said Alyssa Black, Laura's friend.

Close to six hundred individuals showed up for the funeral and following the service walked to the cemetery for the burial.

The congregation of St. Peter Lutheran church is deeply saddened by what happened to the Engelhardt family.

Pastor David Hudak of St. Peter's said the mother, Shelly Engelhardt, who was released from the hospital this week, was also at the funeral. But during the proceedings, she was able to hold her granddaughter, Estela, and that gave her strength, according to Hudak.

"We think of funerals for older people and because we had Laura, 18 years of age, and her dad, I think people were just so moved. Even from our community and also from the church that they came to pay their respects," said Hudak.

Funeral service for Marlene Gacek, Laura's maternal grandmother, will be held on Friday at St. Hubert Catholic Church in Hoffman Estates.

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