CHICAGO (CBS) —Friends and family say the bank teller who was killed last week in a deadly stabbing at a Chase Bank in Chicago had just begun a new chapter in her life.
By all accounts, Jessica Vilaythong was carving out her world in Chicago after graduating college last year, which makes the randomness of the attack all the more painful for the people who were part of her day-to-day.READ MORE: Still Need A COVID Vaccine? Mass Vaccination Sites Reopen This Week In Cook County
Last Wednesday, she went into work like any other weekday. No one knew Vilaythong, just 24 years old, would later be robbed of the rest of her life.
“I knew she worked at a Chase Bank. I didn’t know that she worked at that particular one,” said Eboni Rivera, who knew Vilaythong as a customer of her business with an unforgettable grin. “That’s something I really do remember about her always is the smile. She was really supportive of me, and it is really sad. I’m going to miss her a lot.”
Vilaythong was in the lobby of her bank that day when Jawaun Westbrooks walked in. He had a rap sheet, a history of mental illness, and a knife. Police say Westbrooks stabbed her in the neck. She died at the hospital two days later.
“I was startled about it, just because she was just such a good person, and for that to just randomly happen, it’s just really sad,” said Rivera.READ MORE: No Communication With Firefighters Before Baby Was Found Dead Outside Fire Station; Could Baby Boxes Be A Last-Resort Option In Cases Like This?
On a GoFundMe page set up for Vilaythong’s final expenses, loved ones say she was the youngest of her large Vietnamese family. She graduated from the University of Illinois in 2020, and recently moved in to a new apartment with her longtime partner.
“She was so young, like, she really did have a lot going on for her, and it was just going to get started,” Rivera said.
Westbrooks faces first-degree murder charges. Vilaythong’s family and friends face the rest of their lives without her.
“She was a really good person, and to just reflect on that, I know everybody else that came in contact with her knew that about her, and I’m praying for the family,” Rivera said.MORE NEWS: 'Straight To The ATM': As Chicago Area Thieves Target Cash Machines, Store Owners Work On Solutions To Curb The Crime
Family says the money from that GoFundMe will go toward the resulting medical bills and funeral expenses. Any extra will be used to provide grief counseling to Vilaythong’s partner and family.