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Lane Bryant Shooting: Families keep victims' legacies going

February 2, 2013 3:34:50 PM PST
For the families who lost loved ones in the Lane Bryant shooting, many unanswered questions remain: Was it a botched robbery? Or did the shooter know one of the victims? Why did he spend nearly 45 minutes in the store with the women tied up?

Those answers may come when -- and if ? there is an arrest. In the meantime, however, the legacies of the women who died live on.

"You carry it with you all the time. It's hard all the time," said Penny Hudek, victim Carrie Chuiso's mother.

Hours after Hudek learned her daughter was among the dead, a phone call from her son told her about a new life that was being born.

"Thank God for her because having her to hold and look at, she made all the difference in the world," Hudek said. "Having Carrie it just, she was a gift from God to have her born when she was born."

"My daughter, Carrie, has the same blue eyes my sister did," said the victim's brother Mike Hudek.

Carrie Chiuso was a well-liked social worker at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, a source of pride for her and her husband.

"Becoming a teacher was a goal Carrie and I set," said husband Tony Chiuso.

With encouragement from Carrie's family, her husband went back to school to get his certification. Now, he teaches several subjects and coaches wrestling at Thornridge High School.

"The feeling of seeing the kids smile and have that "aha" moment is just an amazing feeling, and I do it for the kids, and that's what Carrie would want," Chiuso.

In South Bend, Ind., another family touched by the tragedy is that of Jennifer Bishop, who was a nurse, wife and mother to two boys and a girl. The youngest was just 6 months old when his mother was killed.

"We openly talk about Jenny. So, it's comfortable, still comfortable, and I'm pleased I can keep that memory going," said Bishop's sister Michele Talos.

While five women died inside the Tinley Park Lane Bryant store, a sixth survived. She is the woman who helped police put together the sketch of the suspect.

Little is known about her.

She wants to remain anonymous, but released a statement saying to the families in part:

"We share in your struggles in that there are good and bad days, but our lives will never be the same because of that fateful day," she said.

Maurice Hamilton, whose sister, Rhoda McFarland, was the store manager, briefly met the survivor at his sister's wake.

"I know she was shaken. She was still upset, and going through something like that, you'd be shaken. She came in, hugged me, left a stain on my shirt, and I haven't heard from her since or seen her," Hamilton said.

"I've always told the detectives to let that person know we're praying for her and glad she made it, and I do think about her all the time," said Talos.

Police say the gunman, posing as a delivery man, walked into the store, tied up four customers and two employees in the back of the store. Then, he shot them.

"This is a guy that came into this store, spent 44 minutes with ladies, didn't get to know them, don't know their names and had the nerve to take their lives," said Hamilton.

Thousands of tips poured in, but nothing has brought these loved ones closure, yet. For now, these families find strength in each other.

"We did a prayer, and I really needed that," said Jennifer Woolfolk, sister of Connie Woolfolk.

Families torn apart by tragedy but recovering one day at a time.


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