Murdered East Dubuque teen remembered on anniversary of disappearance
Written by Becca Habegger, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
Chyenne Kircher went missing in Oct. of 2011. Officials found her remains last month.
EAST DUBUQUE, Ill. (KWWL) -
The community of East Dubuque, Ill. marked the two-year anniversary of Chyenne Kircher's disappearance while her family still searches for answers.
Kircher disappeared on Oct. 13, 2011 and was considered a runaway up until early 2013, when a reinvigorated investigation lead to her remains behind the home she shared with her mother and stepfather. That was in September.
Prosecutors are charging her stepfather, 41-year-old Terry Abbas, with sexually abusing and strangling the 14-year-old.
On Sunday evening, more than 100 people gathered in East Dubuque to mark the second anniversary of Kircher's disappearance and commemorate her life and memory.
Many at the march and vigil wore purple shirts -- Kircher's favorite color -- and pinned on yellow ribbons, a color representing missing children and hope.
The memorial march led the group to a candlelight vigil at the nearby Mississippi River boat ramp, where people watched a tribute video.
"We were really happy with the number of people that came out to support Chyenne," said Janelle Lutgen, who put together the tribute video.
She'd never met Kircher but, before retiring as a US Postal Service letter carrier, delivered mail to the family's East Dubuque home. She's also working to establish a memorial for Kircher at the East Dubuque District Library, where Kircher liked to spend time.
"I've had different customers on my route have benefits, and I've always tried to do something for it because they were my customers," Lutgen said.
The march and vigil event also served to raise awareness.
"What can we do to help more children in the future like Chyenne so they don't have to lose their lives and, not only that, not have to suffer the abuse that she suffered in that house?" Lutgen posed.
"There's a lot of people that thought they had missed an opportunity to help her," Lutgen said. "We're hoping to raise awareness: if there's a child around you that's like Chyenne, that you feel she needs to be helped, that somebody says something."
Kircher's mother Lori Lyons continues to live in the house she shared with her husband and Chyenne, in the 400 block of Wisconsin Avenue in East Dubuque. Lyons wasn't home early Monday afternoon but Kircher's grandmother Sharon Jones was there.
Jones said Abbas' arrest came as a shock to the family, and she calls him "a monster in human form" for allegedly killing Chyenne and then making it look like the girl ran away from home instead.
The family is trying to return to a regular routine, Jones said, after the devastating news September brought.
Abbas' next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 24. Jo Daviess County, Ill. records show he plans to represent himself in court. He's currently being held on $1 million bail.
Meanwhile, the community continues to hold events commemorating the life of Chyenne Kircher.
On Tuesday, the East Dubuque School District will dedicate a tree planted in Kircher's memory and a stone bench memorial. The high school's Leo Club raised money for the two items by selling yellow Kircher memorial bracelets. They sold 900 of them, but local donations then came in to cover the cost of the tree and bench, so the money from the bracelets will go toward a scholarship fund set up in Kircher's name. The money will help Kircher's class -- the class of 2015.
On Saturday, George and Dales Bar and Grill in East Dubuque is hosting a motorcycle ride to raise money for another memorial. The ride costs $10 and starts at the bar at noon on Saturday.
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