It was Sunday morning, March 26, 2006. For Neil and Lisa Lofquist and their children, 8-year-old Lauren and 6-year-old Lars, it was their usual weekend routine. The family enjoyed Sunday breakfast together before heading off to church. Neil taught Sunday School and Lisa was active in church activities. The couple had been married for sixteen years and raised their family in an upscale suburb of Illinois.
The Lofquists had deep roots in the Clarendon Hills community. They were educated—Lisa was an occupational therapist and Neil had his MBA and was in business for himself. Lauren was a great student, active in Girl Scouts and in swimming. Lars loved baseball, digging in the dirt for worms, and pulling his sister's hair. As far as anyone knew, the family was close and loving.
That evening, around 8 p.m., Neil Lofquist had offered to put the kids to bed while his wife remained downstairs. Lisa was still in the family room watching television when Neil returned from putting the kids down for the night. He had a deep, unexplained wound to this hand.
Neil Lofquist, his son, and Lisa headed to the hospital. Using their cell phone, they called next door and asked a neighbor to check on Lauren who was sleep while Neil sought medical attention for his hand. Oddly, they left Lauren upstairs, asleep.
When the neighbor went upstairs to check on 8-year-old Lauren, the little girl was on her knees on the cold bathroom tile floor, her lifeless head was slumped down into the toilet bowl.
Around 10 p.m. police responded to a 911 call in the 100 block of Chicago Avenue.
The following morning, media were camped out in front of the Loftquist home and reporters canvassed the coffee shops and surrounding area for any tidbits on the family and reaction to Lauren's murder.
The front page news: "Neil Loftquist sexually abused, stabbed, strangled and drowned his daughter inside the family home, claiming he believed Lauren was the devil."
Neil Lofquist was charged with murder. The Chicago Tribune reported he strangled and stabbed his own daughter. He took her into the bathroom and, according to reports, drowned her in the toilet bowl.
That weekend the murder of Loren Lofquist did not make national news. Had it been a slower news day, more than likely the story would have received the attention it deserved.
Over the next several days, people pointed fingers as they often do in these cases. The town Web site was filled with residents demanding answers as to why a mother would leave her child alone to take her husband to the hospital in the first place. Why didn't Lisa go upstairs and check on Lauren's well being? Why did Lisa take the one child and not the other? Why didn't Lisa know their daughter was being sexually assaulted? Why didn't she help her daughter?
Answers do not come easily in tragedies where a parent has been arrested or is a suspect in the murder of their child. And only skilled and trained professionals can evaluate and determine what happened in each case. And sometimes their conclusions are wrong. I suspect we will never know "why" Neil Lofquist murdered his daughter.
Last month, Lofquist appeared before a judge in DuPage County, along with his three public defenders, to argue whether or not psychological interviews can be taped. It will be some time before a trial date is set in the case. And it is likely you will not see this case covered on FOX News or CNN.
Lauren's death was, in my opinion, a great loss to the world. She was one of those kids whose eyes sparkled like stars when she spoke. Loren talked of being a nurse when she grew up.
Lauren could have been your neighbor or your child's school mate or someone you bought Girls Scout cookies from at church. Lauren is a reminder to each of us that life is precious.
In memory of Lauren's death, let us all remember to make time and give our kids extra hugs and kisses. Let them know how important they are each and every day.