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Minister: 'Evil has come' here
By Dan Rozek | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/4/2009 5:03 PM | Updated: 8/4/2009 10:11 PM

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Originally published Jan. 15, 1993

Seeking comfort and strength from each other, hundreds of suburban residents gathered Thursday night to mourn seven people killed last weekend in a Palatine restaurant.

"Everyone is here because they have been touched by the recent tragedy in Palatine," Village President Rita Mullins said during the emotional, sometimes tearful memorial service. "We're here to lend support to the families of the victims and to each other We're all neighbors."

Besides remembering those murdered, many who attended the hourlong, interfaith service said they came in an effort to make sense of the senseless slayings of the seven restaurant workers.

"It helped me bring my feelings out into the open," said Casey Sander, a Palatine High School student and employee of the Brown's Chicken & Pasta where the killings occurred. Sander said she is having trouble accepting the loss of her co-workers - two of whom also were high school classmates.

"It's hard to concentrate on school when you're remembering them and asking why this happened," Sander said.

Earlier in the day, police investigators said they were adding to the task force trying to solve the killings, but offered little new information about their progress. Task force members continued settling into a new command post, giving the impression the probe may have just begun.

By evening about 200 people, including relatives of several of the murder victims, had gathered for the memorial service at Cutting Hall, an auditorium just down the street from the Palatine Police Department.

Many rubbed tears from their eyes or cried openly during the service as Mullins slowly read the names of the murder victims and then called for a moment of silence to remember those slain.

Clergymen from an array of Palatine churches offered prayers and hope to those attending the memorial. The Rev. John McNamara of St. Theresa Church lamented that "evil has come into our community" but nonetheless urged residents, neighbors and relatives to forgive the killer or killers.

"As Jesus forgave we, too, must forgive," McNamara said. "That forgiveness is difficult, it is a challenge, but it is a way our God has spoken to us to rise above this tragedy." He added, "it is important we go on and heal the wounds and make our lives fruitful."

The Rev. Michael Newman challenged community members to fight the temptation to push aside and forget the killings and their impact on the community.

"My challenge to you is to ask 'why?' to think and to look hard at what has taken place, to grieve and to hold this tragedy close to your heart," Newman said.

Mullins and others vowed that the killings would not shatter the community's spirit.

"Everyone keeps asking, 'how will Palatine recover from this?'" Mullins said. "We just will. And so will the shattered families. It will just take an attitude that Palatine and these families are still the same wonderful place and people they were before the tragedy."

Some of those who attended said the service lifted their spirits and helped them begin healing the wounds left by the murders.

"I thought this was great. It makes everyone feel better," said Cathy Vellor of Palatine, a Fremd High School student who nonetheless said she will feel concerned about her safety until the killer or killers are caught. "I'm very concerned, I'm afraid to go out alone."

Mullins said the killings produced a strong feeling of community in Palatine that will help residents put the murders behind them.

"In the midst of this tragedy, something was born - an outpouring of love," Mullins said. "After all the tears, we can develop the attitude that we're stronger than ever because we care about each other."