Faith Kies was a sophomore at Woodstock North High School in Woodstock, McHenry County, Illinois, in Chicago’s far-northwest suburbs. She “ran away” with a 24-year-old “boyfriend” on January 13 and was found shot in the head at his parents’ home in Phoenix, Arizona, according to The Arizona Republic. She was 16.
The boyfriend, a roommate of Faith’s sister, was identified as Alexander O’Neill. He also shot himself in the head, apparently just a few seconds after he had shot Faith. Both shots were fired on the evening of Friday, January 15, as authorities discovered his car outside his parents’ home. Police were acting on a tip from Illinois in search of Faith, who was reported as missing. Mr O’Neill reportedly used a ladder to reach her second-story bedroom Wednesday night, and she climbed down and into his car, bound for Arizona.
He was pronounced dead at the scene, while she was rushed to a local hospital in extremely critical condition. Faith was pronounced dead on Saturday evening after her organs were donated to several people, a report in the Chicago Tribune said.
When news of her death reached Illinois, officials at Woodstock North provided counseling to any students who requested it. “Basically there was a no-pass-needed system,” Principal Brian McAdow was quoted as saying. “Anytime students felt bad, they could go right down to the guidance area where we had additional counselors and social workers set up.”
Accounts on social media showed Faith to be the youngest of four children. Many of her friends wore orange, her favorite color, to school today, in honor of their friend who took part in theater and track at Woodstock North and was a member of the honor roll.
There must have been 20 news reports I read about this murder-suicide, and not one of them explained where the gun came from. I didn’t know Faith, but from all accounts by family, friends, and others at her high school, she was an artistic and creative girl who had a bright future. Not only are smart teens more vulnerable to advances by smart or sensitive, older men, but they’re also trusting and unlikely to see the dark side of family friends.
When those trusted friends have ready access to guns, catastrophe is more likely to occur, and the victim will become little more than another mark on a statistical wall of love-based murder and suicide. I feel sad for all those involved here and hope action follows in the lives of young people that will reduce the amount of this violence that comes into their lives, sometimes from an unsuspecting corner.