Roadside Memorial Vandalized

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) – There is more sadness and frustration for the family of a local woman police say was murdered while driving home from church last winter. The victim’s brother thinks someone destroyed a memorial that has sat near the crash site since the local nurse’s death.

“It was a senseless death for my sister, it wasn’t needed.”

Pat Gendron has spent months creating a colorful memorial for his sister Karen Shafer who was killed while leaving Holy Family Church last winter.

“We really want it to remind people that if you’re not paying attention, stupid things happen and kill people.”

The flowers and lights that once surrounded the homemade cross have been replaced by new ones. After the family says someone destroyed their handiwork.

“I don’t know where the flowers are, they took the flowers and destroyed all the clips, and they broke all the lights. I don’t understand why anyone would do that. It’s a cruel thing to do to a family.”

The memorial marks the spot where Pat’s 58-year-old sister Karen was killed in February 2013, when police say a group of teenagers running from police smashed into her van near Guilford and Alpine Road. Gendron has since redecorated the pole for Easter, even putting up a wreath Karen made herself.

“My sister Karen made it for my brother when his wife passed away and so he wanted to put that up for her.”

Gendron and his family say they understand memorials like this aren’t legal but they’re determined to keep her memory and the tragic circumstance of her death in people’s minds.
“I think it’s important that people remember her.”

17-year-old Traveon Parham was charged with murder and a lot of other crimes in this case. Detectives believe he and his friends were breaking into cars in the Holy Family church parking lot before the crash. He’s pled not guilty and is back in court in mid-May.

The City of Rockford will take down a memorial if they get a complaint about it. We asked the city and the Public Works department tells us there have been no complaints about this memorial. We also called police, code enforcement and ComEd and they tell us they haven’t touched the memorial.

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