Reporting Mike Parker
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INDIAN HEAD PARK, Ill. (CBS) — Hundreds of relatives and friends turned out in southwest suburban Indian Head Park to celebrate what would have been the 15th birthday of a young murder victim.
CBS2’s Mike Parker reports.
The choir from Kelli Joy O’Laughlin’s old middle school sang a Taylor Swift song that recalls, in the lyrics, “all the magic that we made.”
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports
It was part of a tribute to Kelli on what would have been her birthday. It was a celebration of her life that drew some 300 people to the tiny park near her home, where she often played as she was growing up.
Kelli’s father, John, was host for the noisy event. But there was a hush as his wife – Kelli’s mother – spoke.
“She was named Kelli Joy,” Brenda O’Laughlin said. “From the moment she was born, she has lived up to her name, Joy.”
This was a party, full of brightly colored balloons and laughter. There was no mention of the tragedy that ended her life last October. She was brutally murdered after discovering a burglar when she came home from school.
Her childhood friend, Kelsey Corcoran, talked about the park that was the scene of the party.
“This was such a place where we spent so much time together and you could really see that girl that everybody’s talking about, the shining, happy, bright girl,” Corcoran said.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart was at the celebration, too, talking about how much it meant to everyone there, him included.
“You know, this family is an amazing family. The heartbreak and the strength is just incredible,” he said.
At the end of Monday’s event, hundreds of balloons were released and floated toward the heavens.
The mayor of the suburb told CBS 2 that a permanent memorial to Kelli O’Laughlin will be installed in Little Sacajawea Park in late May.