Crime scene experts describe gruesome scene in O’Laughlin home

Prosecutors presented a 13-inch long kitchen knife, a backpack and photos of a trail of blood Thursday to show Kelli O’Laughlin surprised a burglar, who then stabbed her repeatedly in her Indian Head Park home.

At the murder trial of John Wilson, Jr., of Chicago in the Bridgeview courthouse, an evidence technician and an Indian Head Park police officer testified they saw blood in several places on the first floor of the home, suggesting Kelli’s killer moved her after she was stabbed.

Indian Head Park Police Sgt. Raymond Leuser said the Fire Department already was at the O’Laughlins’ house on Keokuk Drive, when he responded to a call at 5:11 p.m. Oct. 27, 2011 about a possible suicide there.

Paramedics were trying to save 14-year-old Kelli, who was lying in a pool of blood in the kitchen, Leuser said.

Leuser saw a knife on the threshold between the family room and the kitchen. He walked around the house and saw bloodstains on the floor in the dining room between the dining room table and the china cabinet.

He also saw a hole in a dining room window. The window was closed, but not locked, Leuser said.

“I suspected it wasn’t a suicide, it was a burglary,” Leuser testified.

When Ron Sachtleban, an evidence technician with the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, arrived, paramedics already had carried Kelli out the front door and taken her to the hospital.

Sachtleban noted a round hole in the dining room window, and shards of glass around the window. A rock, about the size of a common brick, except with rounded edges, was found in a red knit hat under a dining room chair. None of the doors in the house had been tampered with, he said.

Sachtleban also saw “large areas of blood on the floor” by the kitchen table and blood in the family room.

Assistant State’s Attorney Andreana Turano asked if the way the blood trail was smeared was “similar to someone being dragged,” and Sachtleban said it was.

Prosecutors maintain Wilson already was in the O’Laughlin home, when Kelli, a freshman at Lyons Township High School, got off the school bus with three other students at Plainfield and Frontage roads, just east of Interstate 294.

Prosecutors showed a video of Kelli and other students boarding the school bus at the LT South Campus, and getting off at Plainfield Road. Students can be heard on the video calling, “Bye, Kelli,” as she walks toward the front of the bus, the last time they would ever see her alive.

She then walked the short distance home.

“Someone else was in her home,” Assistant State’s Attorney Guy Lisuzzo said in his opening statement.

Lisuzzo said evidence shows Wilson took a knife from a knife block in the kitchen to arm himself in case someone was in the house and went upstairs to look for valuables.

When he heard someone enter, Lisuzzo claims Wilson went downstairs and confronted Kelli in the family room and stabbed her in the neck, chest and elsewhere. The family room has sliding glass doors that lead to a deck, so Wilson dragged Kellli “partially into the kitchen, so no one will see her,” Lisuzzo claimed.

Wilson then left through the back window with coins from the home and Kelli’s cellphone, prosecutors say.

The police found the master bedroom upstairs ransacked, with numerous drawers partially open or pulled entirely out and put on the floor. Articles of clothing, jewelry boxes and other items were on the bed, the floor and at the top of the stairs leading to the second floor.

Sachtleban said despite taking dozens of photographs at the home, he did not see cash in two of the dresser drawers. Police officers later recovered $400 from one drawer and $450 from another, which the defense argues shows the burglary might have been staged.

The O’Laughlins also had three small dogs who were at home when Kelli was killed. The dogs were confined to the mudroom, between the attached garage and a gate blocking them from entering the family room, when the O’Laughlins left that day. Brenda O’Laughlin said all three dogs were still in the mudroom when she returned home.

“They were not themselves,” she said.

She noticed a dark liquid on the floor and thought one of the dogs had had an accident, before she stepped over the gate and saw Kelli lying on the kitchen floor.

A backpack, notebook and papers were strewn on the floor.

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