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Rico Solis, student at Palatine
By Sandra Del Re | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/4/2009 5:03 PM | Updated: 8/4/2009 10:17 PM

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Originally published Jan. 10, 1993

It was an American dream that turned into a tragic nightmare.

Rico Solis, 17, left the volatile Philippines eight months ago, forsaking his homeland for the promise of a better life in America. He was pleased about the small apartment in the Whispering Winds complex in Arlington Heights he shared with his mother, stepfather and two sisters.

Hard-working, he washed dishes and baked biscuits at Brown's Chicken & Pasta six nights a week to earn money. He dreamed of wearing the uniform of the U.S. Army. He admired several of his relatives who had enlisted before him and wore impressive uniforms.

Rico will never wear that uniform.

The police came for Evelyn Orgena early Saturday morning. It was only when she saw photographers crowding around her that she realized her son, Rico, was dead. He was murdered, just like his father, who had been stabbed to death in the Philippines several years ago.

"Rico liked the job at Brown's and he was a very hard-working guy," Orgena said. "He had high goals. He needed to save a lot of money so he could buy a nice, sporty car. But how could someone just kill him like that?"

A quiet, mild-mannered Solis worked at Brown's Chicken for about six months before he was killed. He got the job through a friend of his, Michael Castro, who also died in the massacre.

"He didn't want to ask us for money," Orgena said, sobbing, as family members gathered tightly around her. "He was very independent. He want to do things by himself. He wanted to have his own things."

Jade Solis, 14, who attended Palatine High School with her brother, said he was quiet and nice, and played Scrabble with her. "But most of the time he spent working," she said. "He was always telling me that his boss is kind. He was very happy working there."

Orgena talked about a birthday party she was planning for Sob's and his stepfather, Adrino, in February. Solis would have turned 18 on Feb. 6. Orgena came to America five years ago after her first husband was killed and sent for her children only last year after she remarried.

"This was our first Christmas together in a long time," Orgena said, weeping. "Now it was our last."