It was a dramatic and somber sight Monday as three identical hearses pulled into Our Lady of Mount Carmel church in Darien.
Enveloped by a throng of emotional friends, co-workers and neighbors, the bodies of Jeffrey, Lori and Mike Kramer were ushered into the church sanctuary.
Some of the surviving and closest Kramer family members and relatives wore White Sox jerseys and hats in honor of the family's favorite team.
The three family members were killed last week in what appears to be a murder-for-hire plot.
Following the funeral, fifteen large tow trucks will be used in the procession to Mt. Auburn Memorial Park in Stickney. It is industry custom to lead the cortege as police cars and fire trucks do for one of their own. The family owned Kramer's Towing in Cicero.
The priest giving the homily said his toughest job is making sense of this tragedy, especially for the young people in attendance, so that the healing can begin.
"We're not in an A-to-B, connect-the-dots kind of thing," said Associate Pastor Fr. Edward Ward. "Logic does not prevail here where you can walk through this and explain it to people. People are shocked, stunned at what happened. But dying makes love urgent. We have to focus on the relationships around us. We have to work on the violent disagreements and find a better way to deal with them. Death kind of focuses us on things that we may take for granted."
It is believed but unconfirmed that two surviving family members, 30-year-old son Anthony and 25-year-old daughter Angela, used hooded sweatshirts and sunglasses to protect their identities and privacy in the face of an investigation that has concluded that the lives of their mother, father and brother were allegedly snuffed out with a verbal contract for murder by an ex-boyfriend and his acquaintance.
Prosecutors content that Jacob Nodarse broke into the family home and shot them at the behest of his friend, Johnny Borizov, who was embroiled in a custody battle with Angela Kramer.
While friends and family say goodbye to the murdered Kramers, the case against their alleged killers is heating up. DuPage County Prosector Jeff Muntz said Nodarse and Borizov had planned the crime for about two weeks.
On Feb. 25, the same day Nodarse quit his job at the BMW Naperville dealership, Borizov had a meeting with Nodarse "to encourage Nodarse to commit this offense. The primary targets were Michael and Angela Kramer," Muntz said.
Once Nodarse had allegedly smashed a living room window with a hammer, he shot at Michael who was sleeping on the couch with his 17-year-old girlfriend.
Nodarse then found and shot Jeffrey Kramer, who was on first floor, and Lori, who was on the staircase.
He then returned to Michael, killing him near the kitchen where he retreated to get a knife to defend himself, the prosecutor said.
Nodarse shot each of the victims again in the head to make sure they were dead.
Next he searched the house for Angela, but she was hiding in the closet of her second floor bedroom, calling 911 to say she heard "10 shots fired."
Nodarse gave a "detailed confession" in Florida," according to the prosecutor. "He said he knew they were all dead because he fired a gunshot into each of their heads."
Once Nodarse was brought back to Darien, they put him in or near where Borizov was being held and their conversations were secretly recorded.
"Johnny Borizov makes certain admissions on the audio tape," Muntz added.
Borizov's attorney Marc Wolfe calls the charges "ridiculous ... they are shaky allegations." Borizov has no criminal record.
"What has he ever done? Nothing," Wolfe said.
"What he deserves is a gold star! He saved a child in an auto accident two years ago," he said, arguing that the entire case is based on what Nodarse has said, and there is no basis even to charge Borizov, let alone deny him bail.
But prosecutors countered that they do have evidence that Nodarse tried to communicate with Borizov just hours after the crime, leaving a message on his cell phone.
"The caller states, 'This is Jake and I'm still driving and being followed,'" Muntz told the judge.
The call came from a prepaid cell phone that was tracked to northern Florida, the prosecutor said.
"He's 23 years old and never been arrested. I've kind of got to shake my head about what's going on," said Nodarse's attorney, Randy Ruekert.
Prosecutors say Nodarse told them where to find a gun and clothing he threw away after the crime and they believe the weapon they recovered was used in the murders.