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Oliver: Each October brings memories of Marie

In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed.

I did not know about it then. But I will never forget to observe it now.

In 1988, domestic violence touched me in a way that has left lasting scars.

On Oct. 27, 1988, my friend Marie was brutally murdered by her soon-to-be ex-boyfriend.

Marie was a freshman at Northwestern University in Evanston, and she had recently become a pledge at my sorority.

She was supposed to attend a Halloween event at our sorority house that night. She never made it.

That afternoon, her boyfriend from home had stopped by her dorm room with the pretense of carving a pumpkin. But first they would go for a drive. Earlier that day, Marie had told her mother, with whom she was very close, that she intended to break up with him.

Her body was found under some bushes in a backyard in Skokie. There were slash marks from a knife on her neck and hands.

During his trial, Marie’s killer claimed he had strangled her in self-defense, and that there had been a quarrel. Never mind that Marie was a little thing, and that he outweighed her by 60 pounds.

He also claimed he had panicked and had tried to cover up the crime.

That included calling Marie’s mother to tell her that he and Marie had been fighting and that she had jumped out of the car. And it included stopping by our sorority the next day in an attempt to “find” her.

After three hours of deliberation, a jury convicted him of first-degree murder. He received a 25-year sentence for the murder and an additional five years for concealing a homicide.

He served his sentence and has gone on with his life.

I often wonder what Marie’s life would have been like if she had been allowed to live it.

Would she have become a lawyer? A doctor? A successful businesswoman?

So many of my sorority sisters have done just that.

Would she have found her true love and married?

Would she have raised a house full of children that her mother and father would have doted on, they being the quintessential Italian grandparents?

Would we have stayed in touch or would we have reconnected recently, as I have done with so many of my other sorority sisters?

Would I be laughing at the pictures she would be posting on Facebook, and marveling at the little milestones she would share?

Every one of us who knew her has been cheated out on what no doubt would have been a wonderful life.

And so each October, I remember my friend. With sadness, with anger and with love.

Her memory is safe with me. I promise never to forget.

If you would like to remember those who have been lost and to support those who are currently dealing with domestic violence, a candlelight vigil will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday on the Woodstock Square.

The vigil is sponsored by Turning Point, Direct Counseling and Mather’s Clinic.

It will feature teens sharing their experiences with domestic violence.

I sincerely hope their stories will be heard so that no one else will have to mourn each October.

As I do.

• 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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