Oliver: Sadness, reflection in a candlelight vigil

Each October, for more than two decades now, I stop and remember my friend Marie.

Marie, who was a pledge of my sorority at Northwestern University, was murdered Oct. 27, 1988, by her ex-boyfriend.

My sorority sisters and I had our first inkling that something was wrong when she didn’t turn up for a pledge event.

I vividly remember the shock and horror we felt when her body was discovered in Skokie.

None of us could believe that something like that could happen to any of us.

For most of us, it was our first experience with domestic violence beyond what we had read or seen happen to other people in other places.

Sadly, for me, it would not be the last time.

When I was an intern at the Kansas City Star, I met a photographer named Lucy, who was kinder than she had to be to a fledgling reporter. She showed me around and checked in on me frequently while I was there. Although I lost track of her after my internship, I always remembered her fondly.

Some years later, I was taken aback to learn that she had been shot to death by her ex-husband in a Texas parking lot.

Not again, I thought. Not another beautiful, talented life lost to senseless violence.

As Domestic Violence Awareness Month dawns again, I remember these friends who are gone.

I also am grateful that I have other friends still with me whose lives have been touched in one way or another by domestic violence. Their chilling stories remind me that they easily could have become another Marie or Lucy.

At 6 p.m. today, there will be a candlelight vigil on the Woodstock Square to mourn those who have died because of domestic violence, as well as to celebrate those who have survived, and to bring together all who work to end the violence.

The vigil is sponsored by the 22nd Circuit Family Violence Coordinating Council, McHenry County College, Direct Counseling and Turning Point.

Among those to be remembered will be Michelle C. Mathieu.

On March 24 of this year, Mathieu became what appears to be another victim of domestic violence.

Two days after her death, the man with whom she lived, Robert Signorile, was charged with first-degree murder. Mathieu had been beaten to death.

In August 2011, Signorile was charged with domestic battery in connection with punching Mathieu several times and dragging her by the hair, court records show.

That October, he was sentenced to a year of supervision for battery.

In the fatal beating, Mathieu was found unconscious March 18 on the floor of the master bedroom. She was taken to Sherman Hospital in Elgin, where she died six days later.

Another life lost.

Another life too many.

Another reason to never forget.

• Joan Oliver is the assistant news editor for the Northwest Herald. She can be reached at 815-526-4552 or by email at

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