There were few dry eyes on Wednesday night as community members gathered in suburban Joliet to mourn the death of a 16-year-old girl who was found dead in the Des Plaines River on Tuesday.
Lesly Reynoso was last seen at approximately 4 a.m. Sunday when she was picked up by a teenager who said he dropped her off near Interstate 80 and Briggs Street in Joliet, according to a missing person’s flyer posted by the mayor’s office.
On Tuesday night, a body was recovered from the Des Plaines River, and the remains were identified as those of Reynoso, according to authorities.
Wednesday, the teen’s devastated mother could barely sit upright, and her father broke down sobbing while speaking about the loss of his daughter.
“I feel that I did something wrong, and if I did something wrong, Lesly please forgive me,” her father Eduardo said. “This is the worst pain anybody has to endure. I still have more children that I have to pull myself together (for).”
Before her death, Reynoso was at a family party on Sunday, and relatives and friends described her attitude as one of “happiness” and dancing.
The remembrances came at a candlelight vigil, where hundreds of residents gathered at a Spanish community center to collect funds for a funeral and show love and support to the girl’s family.
“On behalf of my family, I thank every one of you,” Reynoso’s cousin Michelle Santos said. “I thank you guys a lot.”
The teen’s friends remembered her as a smart girl who loved cars and robotics. Reynoso led the robotics class at her school, and always encouraged her classmates to study hard and to get good grades.
After her passing, Joliet Junior College Trustee Alicia Morales asked community members to be kind to one another.
“Show each other compassion and love,” she said. “Share your smiles and your friendship.”
State police are still calling the investigation a “death investigation,” but as a family comes to grips with the loss of a young life, Reynoso’s father is encouraging parents to remain active in the lives of their children.
“I urge all the parents: if you think something is wrong with your children, look at the signs,” he said through a translator. “Don’t ignore any.”