Clergy pray for closure for Lane Bryant families
BY KRISTEN SCHORSCH Staff writer Feb 3, 2009
Homewood-Flossmoor High School senior Rebecca High places flowers for Carrie Hudek Chiuso at a memorial near the Lane Bryant store in Tinley Park. Chiuso was one of five women murdered at the store Feb. 2, 2008, in an apparent botched robbery. Chiuso was Rebecca's social worker at the school. "She got me out of some very dark times," High said.
Updated: January 27, 2011 3:37PM
Monday marked the one-year anniversary of the Lane Bryant murders, a day that left a stain on Tinley Park and forever linked five families who each lost a loved one.
Killed during a botched robbery at the women's clothing store, 191st Street and Harlem Avenue, were Sarah Szafranski, 22, an Oak Forest High School graduate; Rhoda McFarland, 42, the Lane Bryant store manager from Joliet; Connie Woolfolk, 37, a mortgage broker from Flossmoor; Carrie Hudek Chiuso, 33, a Homewood-Flossmoor High School social worker from Frankfort; and Jennifer Bishop, 34, an intensive care nurse from South Bend, Ind.
The Tinley Park Ministerial Association hosted a 30-minute memorial service Monday at the Tinley Park Convention Center, 18501 S. Harlem Ave., to remember the mothers, wives, sisters and best friends who were murdered.
Ministers and priests offered encouragement, peace and inspiration to the victims' families and friends and to the Tinley Park community as the healing process continues.
They recited Bible verses with a prayer after each for the victims and their grieving families, for police officers and emergency responders and for the man who committed the murders.
"There will be a day of reckoning and the scales of justice will be balanced," Mayor Ed Zabrocki said. "Please remember that (the women killed) will never be forgotten."
For some families, the somber event didn't help.
"It's re-living it all," said a teary-eyed Don Hudek, whose only daughter, Carrie, was killed at the store.
For others, the remembrance became an impromptu meet and greet.
Bishop's husband, his parents and her parents, and McFarland's mother, Barbara Hamilton, exchanged hugs.
"It's nice feeling this bond with them," said Pam Van Huffel, Bishop's mother. "When (the shooting) happened, I was just in a fog. ... Now I'm able to focus."
Hamilton said, "I have peace. I've had peace. Who would not want to be going (to heaven)?"
Her daughter was an ordained minister.
At the Lane Bryant store, a few blocks southwest of the convention center, the Bishop family taped to one of the double doors a poster of photographs of Jeni Bishop. A few bouquets of flowers are stuck in the door handles.
"There's still something strangely comforting yet eerie about that location," said Brian Bishop, who on Sunday returned to the murder scene for the first time since his wife was killed. "There's a comfort knowing that's where she left for heaven from."
A new set of five small crosses labeled with the victims' names is on the curb of a service drive in front of the store. Flowers surround each of the crosses placed in a mound of snow. It's the same memorial site mourners chose one year ago to honor the victims.
Earlier Monday, Szafranski's family and friends filled the first few pews at St. Damian Catholic Church, 5300 W. 155th St., Oak Forest, for a Mass in Szafranski's honor. Her family members are St. Damian parishioners.
Hands clenched, heads bowed, they prayed for Szafranski and for their pain to subside.
Szafranski's father, Ted, had no words to express if the service brought him and his family peace. The loving father who lost his eldest of three had only a smile and a fresh set of tears.
Kristen Schorsch can be reached at email@example.com or (708) 633-5992.
Kristen also blogs about Tinley Park at blogs.southtownstar.com.