Tragedies and some triumphs: The top suburban stories of 2022

This story has been updated to remove an incorrect statenent that Ken Griffin owns Citadel Corp.

Two horrific crimes, a deadly car crash and threats against the LGBTQ community and their supporters were among the top suburban news stories of 2022.

But not all the news was grim.

The Chicago Bears continued making progress on their plans to relocate to Arlington Heights.

Two people won a $1.3 billion Mega Millions lottery drawing with a ticket bought in Des Plaines.

And a Lombard native who had been abducted in Afghanistan in 2020 was freed by his captives.

Here's a look at those and other stories that captivated readers in the last 12 months.

July 4 horror

An annual celebration of patriotism, freedom and community was rocked July 4 when a gunman opened fire at Highland Park's Independence Day parade, killing seven and wounding dozens more.

Authorities said Highwood resident Robert Crimo III carried out the shooting while dressed as a woman to conceal his identity.

He drove to Wisconsin with another weapon in the car and then returned to Illinois, where he was arrested after a police pursuit, authorities say. He now awaits trial on 117 charges, including 21 counts of first-degree murder.

Meanwhile, several lawsuits have been filed against the suspected shooter, his father, gun dealers and Smith & Wesson, the company that manufactured the rifle allegedly used in the attack.

Additionally, Robert Crimo Jr., the suspect's father, was arrested this month and charged with reckless conduct because he helped his son apply for a firearm owners identification card in 2019.

Vera Kisliak, center, and her daughters Vivian and Amilia were murdered by Vera's estranged husband, Andrei, in their Buffalo Grove home in November, police said. Another relative also was slain. Courtesy of Natasha Kuzmenko

Kisliak murders

Neighbors and strangers alike were shocked when five members of the Kisliak family were found dead in their Buffalo Grove home on Nov. 30, all from stab wounds.

Police later said Andrei Kisliak, 39, was responsible for the deaths of his estranged wife, Vera; their children, 6-year-old Vivian and 4-year-old Amilia; and his mother, Lilia, 67, before killing himself.

The killings occurred in the midst of a contentious divorce.

An artist's rendering shows the proposed Chicago Bears redevelopment of the Arlington Park property. Courtesy of Chicago Bears

Bears plans proceed

The Chicago Bears announced plans to explore construction of a football stadium at the site of the now-closed Arlington Park racecourse in Arlington Heights in 2021 - but the project made some huge strides in 2022.

In March, officials confirmed the Bears hired an architect and other consultants to prepare preliminary plans for a stadium and surrounding development.

In July, team officials rebuffed a proposal to renovate Soldier Field that included a dome, saying the only project they're pursuing is at Arlington Park.

In September, the Bears released conceptual plans for the property that included a mixed-use and entertainment district along with a domed stadium.

And in November, the Arlington Heights village board approved a nonbinding, predevelopment agreement with the Bears that suggested future zoning changes and public financing.

Mark Frerichs, a Lombard native who had been held by the Taliban in Afghanistan for two years, was released in September. Courtesy of Charlene Cakora

Frerichs released

Mark Frerichs, a Lombard native and civil engineering contractor who was abducted in Afghanistan in 2020, was released by the Taliban in September.

To get him back, the U.S. government freed Bashir Noorzai, a convicted Taliban drug lord who had been held in federal prison for 17 years.

Frerichs' sister, Charlene Cakora, had dedicated her life to getting her brother freed. Also a Lombard resident, Cakora learned the good news during a phone call from President Joe Biden and told the Sun-Times, "I was stunned, very happy, very happy."

"Our family has prayed for this each day of the more than 31 months he has been a hostage," Cakora said in a statement to the Daily Herald after her brother's release. "We never gave up hope that he would survive and come home safely to us."

A lottery ticket worth $1.3 billion was purchased at a Des Plaines gas station in July. Two winners, whose identities were not publicly disclosed, came forward saying they had agreed to share the winnings. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Huge lottery win

The winning ticket for a $1.3 billion Mega Millions lottery drawing was purchased in July at a Des Plaines gas station. It was the third-largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history.

Who bought the ticket remains a public mystery, however. In September, Illinois Lottery officials reported two people who had agreed to split the prize came forward but wanted to remain anonymous.

The pair selected a lump-sum payment option that reduced their winnings to $780.5 million after taxes.

  Firefighters battled a blaze at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles in May. It was deliberately set by a group of teens, authorities said. Brian Hill/

Pheasant Run burns

Already shuttered since 2020, parts of the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles were destroyed when a massive fire engulfed the property.

Built in 1963, the resort had been a regional entertainment and recreation attraction with restaurants, an 18-hole golf course, convention space and a room for live theater. But its popularity waned and it closed in March 2020 after attempts to auction the property were unsuccessful.

Two months after the blaze, four boys - a 17-year-old from Carol Stream, a 15-year-old from Wheaton, a 15-year-old from Winfield and a 14-year-old from Carol Stream - were apprehended. Two of them face charges of arson, burglary and criminal damage to property. Two were charged with trespassing. All four await trial.

Lauren and Thomas Dobosz of Rolling Meadows and their four children died in a head-on collision on Interstate 90 on July 31. Courtesy of GoFundMe

Crash kills family

A drunken driver headed east in the westbound lanes of Interstate 90 near Hampshire collided with a van early on July 31, killing a Rolling Meadows family of six and a 13-year-old friend riding with them, authorities said.

Dead on the scene after the fiery crash were 31-year-old Lauren Dobosz, 13-year-old Emma Dobosz, 7-year-old Lucas Dobosz, 6-year-old Nicholas Dobosz, 5-year-old Ella Dobosz and 13-year-old Katriona Koziara. Thomas Dobosz, 32, died several days later at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood.

They were headed to Minnesota for a vacation.

The drunken driver, Jennifer Fernandez of Carpentersville, also died in the crash. Her blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit, authorities said.

People walk into Uprising Bakery & Cafe in Lake in the Hills in July. The bakery was vandalized after announcing it would host a drag event. Gregory Shaver/Shaw Local News Network

Rising hate

Increased acts of homophobia made 2022 a stressful year for people in the LGBTQ community and their supporters, and those in the Chicago suburbs weren't exempt.

In July, a suburban man was arrested after police said he vandalized a Lake in the Hills bakery that was planning to host an all-ages drag show,

The crime at UpRising Bakery & Cafe followed threats and transphobic social media posts about the event and its supporters. The event was canceled.

Citing zoning rules, village leaders then ordered the bakery owner not to hold entertainment events and threatened to revoke the liquor license. The village reversed that edict within days after objections from the ACLU and others, and UpRising held a drag show in early August.

UpRising canceled a similar event planned for December, citing a terrorism bulletin from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Elsewhere, controversy erupted in Downers Grove in August when the local library announced plans for a drag bingo event for teens. After public protests and threats of violence, the library canceled the event.

Just this month, a drag show at Stage Left Cafe at the Woodstock Opera House was canceled after plans to protest the event were posted on social media.

And the "Gender Queer" graphic novel's appearance in school libraries and on student reading lists prompted heated debates involving parents, students and educators in Barrington Community Unit District 220, Downers Grove High School District 99 and Antioch Community High School District 117, among others.

  Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin delivers his 2022 State of the City address. Irvin unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for governor this year. Rick West/

Irvin runs

With eyes on unseating Democratic incumbent J.B. Pritzker, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin sought the Republican Party nomination for governor. He was bankrolled largely by billionaire Ken Griffin.

In a controversial move, Pritzker spent millions on advertisements opposing Irvin with the hopes of getting state Sen. Darren Bailey, a more conservative Republican from downstate, the GOP nomination.

Bailey defeated Irvin and other Republicans to win the nomination - and then he lost to Pritzker in November, after Pritzker highlighted his anti-abortion beliefs and support of former President Donald Trump.

After Irvin lost the primary race, Griffin packed up and moved to Miami.

Democrats win big

Despite predictions of a Republican "red wave" in November's midterm election, Democrats were the big winners in Illinois and the suburbs.

Although the Republicans won control of the U.S. House, every suburban Democratic incumbent running for Congress was reelected. So was Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates, which helped her party maintain its narrow majority in that body.

Democrats kept control of the Cook, DuPage, Kane and Lake counties' boards. And history was made in DuPage, when state Rep. Deb Conroy of Elmhurst was elected chair of the county board - making her the first woman to ever lead the panel and the first Democrat to have the job in generations.

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2 Chicago-area teens charged in arson at shuttered resort

Threats lead Downers Grove library to cancel drag bingo event

‘Very, very happy’: Sister got call from president saying Lombard native was released by Taliban

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Driver in I-90 crash that killed Rolling Meadows family was drunk at time, coroner says

Police: Buffalo Grove man murdered family, then killed himself

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