The man who a judge once called a “cold” and “calculating” killer for stealing the life of a suburban teenager has died in prison, the Illinois Department of Corrections confirms.
Kelli Joy O’Laughlin was 14-years-old, a freshman at Lyons Township High School back in 2011. She went home from school early on an October afternoon when the man broke into her home during a robbery and encountered Kelli and killed her. The torment didn’t end there. Among the items he stole was Kelli’s cell phone and he used it to send taunting text messages to Kelli’s mom in the days after her daughter’s death.
“The day has come for Kelli Joy to rest in peace,” Brenda O’Laughlin wrote on Facebook after learning of the man’s death. “You took away Kelli’s future by your calculated vile actions. You took away our ‘Joy’ of watching our baby grow up to see the woman that she would have become,” she wrote.
The Illinois Department of Corrections confirmed the inmate’s death but declined to elaborate on the cause citing an ongoing investigation. He was 50-years-old.
Brenda and John O’Laughlin have always refused to speak the killer’s name publicly. Instead they have chosen to not allow Kelli’s death to define her life. The Kelli Joy O’Laughlin Foundation has granted $789,000 in college scholarships, according to the family. The foundation has also funded the construction of a cabin and scholarships at Kelli’s favorite sleepaway camp, Camp Tecumseh, in Indiana.
“Kelli Joy our light will never be extinguished,” her mom wrote on Facebook. “Your qualities of goodness have overcome death’s bounds be memorializing your spirit whenever a smile, friendship or laugh is created.”