Students at Rolling Meadows High School are planning to hold a memorial when they return to classes next month for a classmate whose body was among three found in a burned car along the side of a Mexican road over the weekend.
Alexis Marron, 18, a senior at the school, was in the Mexican state of Michoacán visiting his grandmother and other relatives for the Christmas holiday, family members in the Chicago area said.
Marron and two other family friends were driving to a town some 40 miles away from where the grandmother lived, in Quiringuicharo, when Mexican authorities said they were killed.
Friends said they learned of the incident on Christmas Eve.
"It's hard for everyone right now because he was such a nice kid," said classmate Brandon Leo. "It's brutal. It's sick. Why him? Why would these people do that to such an innocent young person?"
Marron's cousin, Daniela Zendejas, said she believed they were victims of a robbery that turned violent.
"They didn't want to give up their stuff so they killed them," Zendejas said. "Right now, it's a bad country to go visit. Me, as a Mexican, I'm embarrassed right now."
Marron's uncle described his nephew as a good kid, a good student, a good son, and a good cousin.
"They robbed them of their dreams, the dreams of innocent young people that had nothing to do with anything," he said.
Seniors at Rolling Meadows High School said they're planning a memorial tribute -- Red in Remembrance of Alexis Marron -- for Tuesday, Jan. 3.
They're asking classmates to wear red that day in honor of his memory, and bring notes and photos to leave at his locker.
"Everyone's just incredibly shocked right now and horrified about how it happened," said senior Kyle Gentile.
Officials at both the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said Monday they were not aware of the slaying but would investigate, the Daily Herald reported.
No suspects are in custody, according to Mexican newspaper reports.