Hundreds of supporters lined the street Friday morning at 55th and Wolf roads in Western Springs, launching white balloons in memory of 14-year-old Kelli O'Laughlin.
Family, friends and classmates tragically said goodbye during the slain Indian Head Park teen's funeral, also protected by state police. Even community members who didn't know Kelli said they felt compelled to attend.
"I just wanted to show my support," said Karen Cairo, a resident in the area. "I have a daughter of my own. ... It's so sad what happened."
The family asked for privacy, but inside the funeral program, Kelli's parents included a poem, "For All Those Affected by Violence." On the back of the program, they included memories of Kelli, remembering her "sparkling eyes, delightful energy and the way she lit up a room."
Her young life was cut short when she was stabbed to death last week after she arrived home from school to a burglary in progress.
"She was a beautiful little girl, always happy, always smiling, big brown eyes with blond hair," said Beth Johnson, O'Laughlin's former teacher. "It's horrible someone could take a life of someone so innocent."
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez on Friday confirmed John Wilson Jr., 38, of Chicago was charged with first-degree murder and residential burglary in her murder. A judge denied Wilson bond.
Friends and family embraced in tears as they left Kelli's funeral, emanating the grief of the community.
"I loved the way her brother spoke," said Pat Sifferman, "how integral she ... to the family and she pulled everybody together and she was just a bright spot in the family."