Christmas means memories for mother of slain Indian Head Park girl
Updated: January 14, 2013 6:29AM
INDIAN HEAD PARK — This is the second Christmas since Kelli Joy O’Laughlin of Indian Head Park was tragically killed in her home after walking in on an intruder. Kelli’s mom, Brenda O’Laughlin, said this year has been harder in many ways than last Christmas, when the numbness had yet to wear off.
While recently decorating their home for the holidays, she was thinking about the reality of the loss of her daughter. As she was unpacking the trimmings, O’Laughlin came across a rather cheesy-looking stuffed Santa Claus figure that didn’t quite fit with the other décor.
“I brought the box down and I get to that Santa Claus and thought, ‘Well, what am I going to do with you?’” she said.
The silly Santa was holding a gift box with a lid, and, for some reason, she felt compelled to open it.
“I thought, ‘Let me see if anything is in that box,’ and there it was — the angel.”
The angel she found in the box was a small statue of an angel wrapping a wing around a young child. O’Laughlin had received the figurine for her First Communion when she was a student at St. Cletus School in La Grange.
“I had given it to Kelli to put in her dresser and I’d been looking for it,” O’Laughlin explained.
Because she hadn’t found it, she thought perhaps the angel had been lost or worse, taken.
When she found the angel, while thinking of Christmas and her Kelli, O’Laughlin says she started to cry. And she said she is not one who cries easily.
A few hours later, the phone rang. It was someone at the Cook County Sheriff’s office, and he told her that the bloodhound who had been named after Kelli had gone out on her first assignment that day and found someone in the woods who had allegedly tried to commit suicide. Kelli the dog got to him in time and saved his life.
“I was so excited, because of what had happened earlier that day. I found an angel hovering over a child, and then the Kelli dog goes out and finds someone,” said O’Laughlin. “It was special.”
Those tidings of comfort and Kelli Joy continue this holiday season, too, as Brenda and John O’Laughlin will share presents they bought through the Kelli Joy O’Laughlin Memorial Fund with youngsters at the Illinois Masonic Children’s Home in La Grange and at Maryville Academy in the northern suburbs and city.
Angels, a life saved, sharing with others in need: “It’s connected, all right,” O’Laughlin said.