O’Laughlins testify about daughter’s death, taunting text messages

Kimberly Fornek
kfornek@pioneerlocal.com
Sept. 3 11:25 a.m.

On the witness stand Wednesday, Brenda O’Laughlin told how she received texts and phone calls from her daughter’s phone the day after the 14-year-old was fatally stabbed.

Brenda O’Laughlin said she returned home about 5 p.m. Oct. 27, 2011 and found her daughter, Kelli Joy, lying on her stomach in the kitchen. Blood was on the floor.

She called 911 and told the dispatcher her daughter had committed suicide. Brenda could not turn her daughter onto her back to perform cardio pulmonary resuscitation, as the dispatcher suggested.

So instead, she touched her daughter’s still warm body and talked to her, Brenda said.

“I was trying to comfort her,” Brenda said.

She went to the hospital and called her husband, John O’Laughlin, who met her there. Emergency room doctors told the couple about the stab wounds in their daughter’s body, John O’Laughlin said.

“It was hard to process. You take her to school in the morning and then she is gone,” John O’Laughlin said.

The O’Laughlins testified in the first day of the trial for John L. Wilson, Jr., of Chicago, who is charged with first-degree murder.

When prosecutor Andreana Turano asked Brenda why she first thought Kelli had committed suicide, Brenda said simply she never thought that anybody had broken in.

When the police arrived, they found a broken dining room window, a large rock in a red knit hat on the dining room floor, open dresser drawers and items strewn about the second floor.

Because their house was a crime scene, the O’Laughlins were not immediately allowed to return home. They stayed at a hotel. During the night, Brenda said she pulled off all her artificial fingernails. The next day, she went to a salon to get them replaced.

“That’s like her therapy,” said her husband John, who waited for her in their car outside the salon.

While she was getting a manicure, at about 11:30 a.m. Oct. 28, Brenda started to get calls and texts from Kelli’s phone. Kelli’s picture would show on Brenda’s cellphone, when it received a call from Kelli’s cellphone, she said.

Brenda said she answered a call, saying, “Hello.”

Then she received a text, that said, “Hi, Brenda.” The messages became more disturbing.

“She wanted to tell you something before I killed her,” read another text.

Brenda ran out to her husband’s car to tell him what was happening. He called a sergeant from the regional task force that was investigating the crime.

At 12:30 p.m., Brenda’s cellphone showed an incoming phone call from Kelli’s phone that she did not answer.

At 3:04 p.m., she received the text, “You’ve got two minutes to text me before I break the phone,” Brenda said.

She replied to that message asking, “Who are you and what do you want?”

The other person texted something about how he or she is looking at her a lot on (on Kelli’s phone).

Brenda texted back, “Can you send me a picture of you, so I can look at you a lot?”

She got no reply, and later that day turned her phone over to the police, she said.

In his opening statement, Wilson’s attorney, John Paul Carroll, told the jury they will have to decide if Kelli committed suicide. If they think she did not, they have to decide whether the police have charged the right person with her murder.

The police arrested Wilson on Nov. 2.

The prosecutors said Wilson’s DNA was found on the knit hat. But Carroll said other people’s DNA also was on the hat.

Carroll also said no blood was found on any of the clothes that Wilson was wearing the day Kelli died.

He said the police did not thoroughly investigate other possible suspects, such as the landscapers who were working at the O’Laughlins’ house the day of the crime.

Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Guy Lisuzzo told jurors Wilson had traveled to Lyons to visit a woman with whom he had spent the previous weekend. When she was not available, Wilson began to tour the area.

Lisuzzo said Wilson began calling real estate agents asking about area homes in McCook, La Grange and Western Springs.

“He is looking to burglarize a house,” Lisuzzo said.

As he was surveying houses, he came across the O’Laughlin home near Plainfield Road and Interstate 294, Lisuzzo said.

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