'It's my son. I miss him': Slain Glenview teen's family upset suspect is out on house arrest
The mother of slain 15-year-old Glenview resident Elias Valdez said she is distressed that the teen charged in her son's killing is on house arrest, and she and others will protest the boy's release Sunday.
The 16-year-old boy surrendered to Glenview police Aug. 17 to face a second-degree murder charge in connection with the Aug. 5 stabbing death of Elias, a rising sophomore at Glenbrook South High School.
The boy initially was taken to the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center in Chicago. He appeared Aug. 18 in juvenile court in Skokie, where Cook County Judge Steven Bernstein placed him on electronic monitoring and continued the case to Sept. 9.
"If this person took away the life of my son, I am afraid (he'll) hurt someone else," Elias' mother, Marcela Fierros, said Monday. "They should have given him a different punishment. He should be in prison.
"The judge said it was his right. So what's my right as a victim?" she said, adding she believes the 16-year-old should have been charged with first-degree murder. "I want to have justice."
Elias was found Aug. 5 lying in a grassy area on the 1200 block of Greenwood Road in Glenview, police said. He had been stabbed in the chest and was taken to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, where he died in surgery.
Prosecutors asked for the teen suspect to remain in custody, Cook County state's attorney spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said.
"The court solely determines custodial status and denied our request," Simonton said. "Over our objection, the court ordered the minor released on electronic monitoring."
Cook County circuit court spokeswoman Mary Wisniewski said a charge of second-degree murder is punishable by 4 to 20 years in prison, though probation also is an option. The Sept. 9 hearing likely will be held at the Juvenile Justice Division in Chicago, she said.
Fierros and her daughter Elizabeth, 15, said they don't know the 16-year-old accused in the killing.
Both said they are struggling emotionally.
Elizabeth said she and her brother were in the same grade -- they are 10 months apart -- and always close.
"He was protective over me and to the people I hang out with," she said. "He always looked out for me."
Marcela Fierros said she's been a single mom for a few years and relished the fact that her kids, including a 13-year-old daughter, got along well.
"(Elias) was always interested in his sisters. He tried to take care of them. He was very protective of them," she said. "They liked to do things together. Not always, but they did."
Marcela Fierros said she last saw Elias at about 4:30 p.m. Aug. 5, after she came home from her job as a stylist at a beauty salon in Wheeling.
"I went to him, and I hugged and I told him I loved him very much," she said. "He ate and then he told me he wanted to go out with his bike for a while. I told him that's fine but be careful and come back soon."
She then took her car to the mechanic's and came home at about 9 p.m., she said.
"When I came back and I didn't find him, I got very scared," she said.
Shortly after, she got a call, and then a visit, from law enforcement telling her he'd died, she said.
The mother and sister said it's especially difficult to walk into his room.
"When I go in and I see all his things, I feel like a part of me is missing," Marcela Fierros said. "It's my son. I miss him."
"I have been feeling upset about everything, knowing he's not here with us anymore," Elizabeth said. "Sometimes I would just look at his room and be like, 'Oh, why is he not here anymore?'"
The protest is scheduled from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, outside the Glenview police station.
Glenbrook South 2020 graduate Oscar Ocampo, a friend and former neighbor of Elias Valdez and his family, said he is promoting the protest on social media, including a Facebook group, "Justice for Elias Valdez." Ocampo, of Glenview, was a wrestling teammate of Elias Valdez.
Police have said it was Glenview's first murder since 2004.
• Daily Herald staff writer Barbara Vitello contributed to this report.