KANKAKEE COUNTY, Ill. — Police say a missing 24-year-old Mokena woman was found murdered in a rural area of Kankakee County Thursday.
Kaitlyn Kearns was last seen at about 1:30 a.m. Monday when she finished her bartending shift at Woody’s Bar in Joliet. She never made it home, and never showed up for her other job on Tuesday morning. Her body, with a single gunshot wound to the head, was found along with her 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee in a rural area near St. Anne, about 50 miles away from the bar where she was last seen.
Will County Sheriff’s officers executed a search warrant at the Joliet Outlaws Motorcycle Club in connection with her death Thursday. The motorcycle club is located about a mile away from Woody’s, and its members were known to frequent the tavern. The Will County Sheriff tells WGN Katie had told several people she was going to the club before she disappeared. The club was raided around 10 a.m. Thursday, as police broke down the front door to get in.
Earlier this year, the Outlaws drew criticism from area residents for displaying a confederate flag, which the club refused to comment on or take down.
Family and friends held a prayer vigil just outside Woody’s Thursday night. Katie’s brother Matt said she was the spark in his life.
“Honest to God, she got me through a lot of stuff,” Matt said.
“She reached people. She got to people’s hearts,” said her boyfriend Daniel Brandt.
Steering clear of the developments of the investigation, her brother and others said the vigil was about remembering the woman and person she was.
Earlier in the day, Kearns’ friend Marie Roche also did not want to talk about any possible connection to the Outlaws, preferring to put her faith in investigators to solve the murder.
“We are going to find out who did this; we are going to bring justice for Katie,” Roche said.
Anyone with information about Kearns’ death is asked to call the Sheriff’s Investigation Division at 815-727-8574; or the Sheriff’s dispatch center at 815-727-8575. An anonymous tip can also be sent to crimestoppersofwillcounty.org