West Chicago's 'heart aches' for victim of 'brutal, heinous' killing
Police continue to piece together the backgrounds of the teenagers accused of strangling, stabbing, burning and running over another teen and then hiding his death, while the West Chicago community rocked by the crime begins to recover.
Counselors at West Chicago Community High School District 94 and in West Chicago Elementary District 33 are helping students process the Monday evening death of 18-year-old Luis Guerrero, a recent high school graduate whom former teachers and friends remembered fondly on a GoFundMe page set up to help cover his funeral costs.
"My heart aches for the Guerrero family," his former teacher at Leman Middle School, Patricia Macko, wrote on the page. "Luis was my student in eighth grade and was a kind, caring young man."
"I always thought that he was really well-spoken," said recent West Chicago High School graduate Gracie Vanco of Winfield, who had an honors English class with Guerrero. "He seemed really well-liked, too. He seemed to have a lot of friends."
Many of the same peers who went to school with Guerrero also attended with suspects Francisco Alvarado and Jesus Jurado Correa, both 18 of West Chicago and 2018 graduates of the high school, and Tia R. Brewer, 16, of an unincorporated area near Wheaton, who was beginning her junior year.
School officials said Alvarado and Correa both played football at the high school, and Correa also participated in track. The school website showed Brewer was named to the ninth-grade honor roll the second semester of her freshman year for earning a minimum GPA of 4.0 on a weighted scale, with no grades lower than a "C."
None of the defendants has any prior criminal offenses documented in DuPage County Court records.
Alvarado and Brewer have been charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery and concealment of a homicidal death and are held without bail. Despite her age, Brewer is charged as an adult. Both could be sentenced to life in prison without parole if convicted. Correa has been charged with concealment of a homicidal death.
West Chicago police Cmdr. Julio Calabrese said Friday police believe none of the suspects was involved with a gang. He said officers continue to investigate their backgrounds to determine any past police contact with them or their families, but he could not release any further investigative details.
Calabrese and Paul Darrah, spokesman for DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin, said no federal or outside agencies are involved with the case.
Now that charges have been filed, Darrah said, Supreme Court rules prohibit him or anyone with the state's attorney's office from revealing details about the suspects' family history, citizenship status, criminal history, drug use or other personal factors because these facts could be prejudicial to future prospective jurors who could be called to hear the case.
The case involves what authorities described as a "brutal and heinous" attack, in which Alvarado and Brewer are accused of strangling Guerrero with a belt, stabbing him 16 times, lighting him on fire, running him over with a Jeep SUV, then leaving him to die in a fire pit in a West Chicago field. Correa is accused of joining Alvarado and Brewer in the field near Alvarado's house and receiving a $200 payment in exchange for delivering them a water bottle full of gasoline.
The motive is unclear. Authorities said Brewer told police the attack was retribution because Guerrero sexually assaulted her; but police say they have no record of such a crime being reported. Alvarado told police he was meeting Guerrero to buy a cellphone when Guerrero opened a knife and a fight ensued.
Days after Guerrero's death, his family sought donations to cover his funeral costs via a GoFundMe page, which had collected $10,047 of a $4,000 goal as of Friday afternoon.
A wake for Guerrero is scheduled for 11 a.m. to noon Tuesday at DuPage Cremations & Memorial Chapel, 951 W. Washington St., West Chicago. A funeral Mass is set for 1 p.m. Tuesday at St. Mary Catholic Church, 140 N. Oakwood Ave., West Chicago.
"I have always referred to Luis as an old soul," Mary Roley, a counselor in college planning at West Chicago High, wrote on the GoFundMe page. "He was brave in that he never feared letting us see his heart. He left his heart-print on many of us."
Staff writer Madhu Krishnamurthy contributed to this report