Charges expected soon in Indian Head Park girl's stabbing

ABC 7 Chicago
Updated 11/3/2011 10:48 PM

It appears charges may be filed soon in the stabbing death of 14-year-old Kelli O'Laughlin of Indian Head Park. She was killed last week after interrupting an apparent home burglary.

The state's attorney's office is now reviewing the evidence against a suspect.


ABC 7 first reported police had a man in custody on Wednesday night. Now ABC 7 has learned more exclusive details about the case.

A Chicago man believed to be 38 years old is expected to face charges in O'Laughlin's death. Police say she surprised a burglar when she got home from school one week ago.

"We feel very confident about the case and about the individual that's in custody right now," Cook Count Sheriff Tom Dart said during a news conference late Thursday night.

"As far as this crime is concerned, I think we can all rest a little bit easier tonight," Indian Head Park Police Chief Frank Alonzo said.

Sources tell ABC 7 that blood DNA evidence is a key part of the case and that O'Laughlin's blood was found on the suspect's clothing. ABC 7 is also told that he apparently hailed a cab after the crime, possibly from a nearby convenience store, and he tried to pay the cabdriver with an odd set of coins. The day after the killing authorities released pictures of coins similar to the ones missing from the family's home.

Sources also tell ABC 7 that the suspect attempted to use Kelli O'Laughlin's cellphone to call her mother. It's unclear whether he was successful.

Sources have called the suspect a Chicago gang member. He has been arrested on the far South Side and has a criminal history. Along with being a parolee, the suspect has been arrested at least five times for petty drug offenses, aggravated battery and possession of a stolen vehicle. He also has at least one year left of probation.

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Earlier in the day Thursday during a brief news conference, police said investigators have been working "feverishly" on this case since last Thursday when it happened. Since then the O'Laughlin home has been a crime scene.

Kelli O'Laughlin, a freshman at Lyons Township High School, had been stabbed. Gold coins were taken from the home, and investigators suspect that the person with those coins would have information about the murder.

For the first time Wednesday, O'Laughlin's father, John, released a statement on behalf of wife Brenda and their three children:

"We are truly overwhelmed and touched by the outpouring of support we have received from the community and all those who knew and loved Kelli. We are so grateful to everyone who has offered their support and condolences in this difficult time."

Visitation continued Thursday for Kelli O'Laughlin. Her funeral is planned for today.

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