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Suspect charged in stabbing death of Indian Head Park teen

People line the sidewalk in front of St. John of the Cross Church in Western Springs Friday, waiting for the funeral service for 14-year-old Kelli O'Laughlin who was slain in her Indian Head Park home. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

A 38-year-old man was charged late Thursday with murdering an Indian Head Park schoolgirl, a source close to the case told the Chicago Sun-Times.

John L. Wilson, 38, was charged with first-degree murder and residential burglary in the stabbing death of 14-year-old Kelli O’Laughlin, Cook County State’s Attorney’s office spokeswoman Sally Daly said.

He was arrested in Chicago and is expected to face a judge in Cook County Circuit Court in Bridgeview later Friday, Daly said.

Wilson, of the 7900 block of South Lafayette Avenue, Chicago, was arrested in the 50 block of East 95th Street in Chicago, a source said.

A source had said the man may have called or texted her mother on the teen’s cell phone either before or after she died.

The source said it was unclear whether the cell phone communication actually went through to Kelli’s mother.

During a brief press conference Thursday night before charges were filed, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said: “We feel very confident about the individual who is in custody right now. We feel very confident about the evidence we have.”

Indian Head Park Police Chief Frank Alonzo said he too was confident police have the right man.

“We can all rest a little easier tonight,” Alonzo said.

Kelli was stabbed to death Oct. 27 when she apparently surprised a burglar at her home in the southwest suburb, authorities have said.

The source told the Sun-Times police recovered knives and DNA from the scene of the crime, and are analyzing the evidence now.

The source said the man was picked up Wednesday on the South Side of Chicago and said the man is a parolee. He did not have the murder weapon on him when he was arrested. The man actually had some kind of “interaction” with another suburban police force the day of the murder but he was not arrested.

After the crime, investigators used a bloodhound, which was able to track the suspect’s scent from the scene of the crime, but the trail went cold, the source said.

Officers from the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force have been working around the clock following up more than 100 leads since the murder shocked the tiny suburb last week.

Over the weekend, they released an artist’s impression of the suspect and an image of rare coins stolen from the O’Laughlin home.

Indian Head Park had been targeted by a burglary ring over the summer.

Meanwhile, mourners for a second night filled a La Grange funeral home Thursday for Kelli’s visitation. Her funeral will be held Friday at 9:45 a.m. at St. John of the Cross Church, 5005 Wolf Road, Western Springs.