INDIAN HEAD PARK, Ill. — A south suburban bridge that spans Interstate 294 received a new name to honor a 14-year-old girl who was murdered in October 2011.
Kelli O'Laughlin's life was cut short by a brutal crime eight years ago. Her classmates were behind the effort on renaming the bridge.
Cups on the the Plainfield Road bridge over I-294 are a familiar sight. The cups spell out a message through the fence, which changes from time-to-time. One said "with joy there's hope."
Now, there's a sign that will never change: The Kelli Joy O'Laughlin Memorial Bridge.
In 2011, Kelli was murdered during a home invasion. She was a freshman at Lyons Township High School. Her brutal death stunned everyone in the community of Indian Head Park. Time, however, was not going to erase the memory of the teenager.
The O'Laughlins, along with the community, continue to hold fundraisers in honor of Kelli. Since her death, they've given out more than a half a million dollars in college scholarships, supported Kelli's favorite summer camp and provided Christmas toys for those in need. As a result, an honor normally given to fallen first responders went to Kelli, the naming of a state bridge.
A stolen phone helped find her killer. John Wilson of Chicago was convicted and sentenced to 160 years in prison.