Friday, September 12, 2008

The Murder of Lauren Lofquist

by Susan Murphy-Milano

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.


Anonymous said...

Referendums in this little girls name to increase taxes for programs that educate on early detection of child abuse or provide for more funding of CPS and social services or setting a standard for the average social workers case load would be a wonderful tribute. I never met a social worker who wasn't over worked.
If words do not lead to action they die like wasted grapes on the vine.

Anonymous said...

How does he get a defense team of 3 public defenders? Where's her advocate? Has DCFS been called in? This is from 2006!

I know why she did or better yet didn't act appropriately because she too was a victim of this man's psychopathic abuse. He's been ordered no contact but is still trying according to the link.

Was there any history of battering by the husband?

This makes me really ill.

I know she's in a better place now. Since he's got a team does the mother and son have a team of therapists? They should.

Regan said...

The sad part is the effect this has had on the kids.

Not just the brother, who will carry this all his life, but even the kids in the neighborhood or friends from school and church.

They've been traumatized. I know because I've seen 1st hand what trauma does to a child. Many people don't have the help of family or professional help.

I'd be nice if there was more information available on how to deal with this kind of trauma in kids.

Here's one book I've found helpful: Children and Trauma: A Parent's Guide to Helping Children Heal by Cynthia Monahon

LadySheila said...

My heart is broken. This is one of my favorite blogs so I check it often. Could you please give your theory as to why this man would do this? As a student, I know psychopathic actions stem from not having any emotion, but what do you think?

Anonymous said...

There's a lot of good links to this story. You can google too. Very sad. Hard to believe there wouldn't have been more previous evidence if it was truly a psychotic episode. Seems too much like a set up deal sending the neighbor to sit with the little girl, then calling for her to check on her. Like they wanted her to find her. Very strange.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe they wanted to blame it on the neighbor.

Paul Dobro said...

Three years ago today, March 26, Lauren was taken from this world.

3 years and yet Joe Birkett cannot bring her father to justice. It will be a mircle if that occurs even before the 4 year anniversary.

Thank you for remebering Lauren.

As for anyone who wants to blame Lisa, shut up. As a personal friend of Lisa, I can tell you he previously showed no signs of violence. Sure he showed signs of the stress of selling his business and changing jobs, but nothing that would indicate what would follow. Lisa was also the victom here. Not of physical abuse, but Neil was controlling. Her only crime is loving her children and trusting her husband of 16 years.

Neil called the shots. He requested brining Lars and letting Lauren "sleep". The neighbor came over BEFORE they left for the ER. Only after comments from Neil at the hospital did they do a wellness check. But it would not have mattered. Lauren was gone before Lisa even saw the cut.

Please remember Lauren in your prayers today. Also, pray for justice for Neil and peace for Lisa and Lars.

Paul Dobro said...

By the way, the spelling of the last name is wrong. It is Lofquist, not Loftquist.

Anonymous said...

well i was close friends with lauren, we went to the same church, we went to the same pre-school and pre-k. I cant believe this happened,its to horrible for me to wrap it around my head... i miss her very much and it makes me sick about what happened. this should not have happened and there is good no reason that she should have been murdered!


Anonymous said...

well i was close friends with lauren, we went to the same church, we went to the same pre-school and pre-k. I cant believe this happened,its to horrible for me to wrap it around my head... i miss her very much and it makes me sick about what happened. this should not have happened and there is good no reason that she should have been murdered!


lydiag said...

The death of this precious child still haunts me today; any decent person wonders what they could have done to save a life. As a victim of child sexual abuse I knew in an instant what had happened to her and the horror of what she had probably been going through for some time. It's taken me close to forty years to talk about the abuse I went through and completely understand all that keeps a child silent; living in a very lonely and frightening world. Childen do have their ways of telling; I had mine. I gave clues that were often overlooked or ignored and never picked up on by doctors, teachers, or police officers. How can children ever feel safe in coming forward when society still treats sexual abuse like a dirty little secret? It's not talked about in schools or churches. Finally we've taken measures in talking to children about stranger danger and good touch / bad touch, but it's not enough, apparently. Children need to feel a strong sense of safety and security in telling; they will not be punished, blamed, ridiculed, and someone will actually do something to help them. Children need to feel like they're not alone; as sad and horrific as sexual abuse is, it happens and it happens a lot and most often by someone that they know, trust, or love. There's an incredible wall of fear and shame that was built by the abuser, a web of deceit and lies told to them in order to protect the predator. I have found the predator's greatest fear is getting turned in; that the world will see them for who they really are. They're no longer the friendly, jovial Sunday school teacher, the business man next door, the caring husband and father, or a teenage babysitter; they do whatever they can to protect that lie and image that they've presented to the rest of society at the expense of the child.