Willowbrook to hold memorial for slain freshman, family
Ever since Darnell Holt was killed earlier this month, students and staff at Willowbrook High School in Villa Park have honored the outgoing freshman with impromptu vigils, condolences on social media sites, and tributes like a schoolwide effort to wear Darnell's favorite color, red.
On Sunday, their efforts will continue with a communitywide memorial to honor Holt, 16; his mother and brother, Ursula and Daniel Nailor, ages 37 and 13; and his cousin Dominique Robinson, 19, who all died Jan. 17 in a murder-arson at their home near Villa Park.
Authorities believe Nailor's on-again, off-again boyfriend, Cedric Anderson, 42, shot all four before setting fire to the house. Anderson later was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his father's home in South suburban Dolton.
Speakers who knew the family will share stories during a fellowship at 1 p.m. in the school's auditorium, 1250 Ardmore Ave., Villa Park. A formal program will follow at 2 p.m. A school spokeswoman said the event was created "to honor the family, as well as provide an opportunity for community members to express their condolences."
Friends, teachers and coaches said Holt was a popular freshman known for his easy way of making friends and his infectious smile. A wrestler and football player who was slated to join varsity wrestling next year, Holt was praised by his coaches for his dedication and team spirit.
"He was simply a presence, even as a freshman," Willowbrook Principal Dan Krause said.
His brother, Daniel, was a seventh-grader at nearby Albright Middle School and was remembered by staff as a "gentle giant" who shared his brother's warm smile.
Memorial organizers will accept donations for the Taken Too Soon Memorial Fund, which was established to benefit the victims' family. The fund is organized with BMO Harris Bank, 17W695 Roosevelt Road in Oakbrook Terrace, and donations are being accepted at any BMO Harris Bank. For details, email TakenTooSoon@yahoo.com.
Donations to benefit the family also are being accepted through the Partnership for Inspired Education Foundation. Contributions can be mailed to: PIE Foundation, P.O. Box 5438, Villa Park, IL 60181. For details, email Donna Cain, foundation chairwoman, at firstname.lastname@example.org. For details, email TakenTooSoon@yahoo.com.