Community members, friends and neighbors gathered in Buffalo Grove on Friday to remember Vera Kislyak and her daughters, Vivian and Amelia, while calling on each other and authorities to do more to prevent domestic violence.

About 100 people gathered at the Buffalo Grove Park District Community Arts Center to mourn and pay respects to those lost last month in what officials described as a murder-suicide in the midst of a contentious divorce.

Looking contemplatively and tearfully at an assortment of photos depicting happy moments from their lives, some placed bouquets of flowers beneath the thoughtful memorial. One picture shows Vera in the pool holding Emilia as a baby, with Vivian next to her smiling wearing a pink floatie in her arms and another shows Vera and one of her daughters eating an ice cream cone. is shown.

Police believe that Andrei Kislyak murdered his daughters, wife and mother Lilia on 30 November before taking his own life.

Holy Virgin Protection Russian Orthodox Cathedral Rev. Following a prayer and sermon by Leonty Nedzians, speakers shared the heartwarming stories of the Kislyaks, while expressing the sense of shock and grief that many are still beginning to process.

Liliya Dzorayeva and her husband Giuseppe Vitulli, neighbors and friends of the Kislyak family, speaking after a memorial service for Vera Kislyak and her two daughters, Vivian, 7, and Emilia, 4, at the Buffalo Grove Community Arts Center on Dec. 16.  2022.

Natasha Kuzmenko, who helped organize the memorial and a GoFundMe for the family After the deaths, shared how he and Vera became good friends after meeting in 2017. In the years that followed, they shared the news of their pregnancies, and eventually began raising their young children as friends and playmates.

“She was such a devoted mother,” Kuzmenko said. “Always made sure her kids had home-cooked, nutritious meals at home. Vera always gave her best, making sure the girls were hitting all their milestones.

Flora Top, a Buffalo Grove resident who said she did not know Kislyaks, said the community should talk about what can be done in the future “to prevent what happened.”

Sanja, a friend and neighbor who asked to be referred to only by her first name, told attendees about Vera’s love for nature and the memories she had of her own young children playing with it. Will remember

“The view from our house will never be the same,” cried Sanja. “Whenever I looked through those windows to see my girls, Vera and her daughters were there. it will never happen again. I hope they rest in peace and are in a better place.

Mourners arrive for a memorial service for Vera Kislyak and her two daughters, Vivian, 7, and Emilia, 4, at the Buffalo Grove Community Arts Center on December 16, 2022.

Vivian’s second grade teacher, Nikki Yario, described how blessed she and her students are to have found “a kind, loving and energetic classmate.”

“We remember Vivian every day by writing her notes and taking pictures of her,” Yario said. “Her radiant smile will never be forgotten, those beautiful blue eyes will brighten my day and her sweet laugh will always bring a smile to my face.”

As speakers shared their grief and how they were trying to process the tragedy, calls to action began to emerge.

Richard Montgomery, a private investigator and friend of the Kislyaks who attempted to help Vera during her divorce, said that people needed to act rather than not realizing that it was a situation before it was too late. was “apt enough to jump that far” to intervene directly. ,

“If not us, who is going to do it?” He asked. “Raise up on difficult issues and listen again and again, even if people don’t want to talk about it, we need to tell people what’s going on. Say what’s hard to say, tell the whole truth. I must not let the system and authorities that failed these girls remain the same system that requires our girls to call for help.

He said that, in his conversation with Vera, he tried to explain that help had arrived and that he should not give up hope and continue taking actions to avoid the situation.

Montgomery said, “I don’t know too many people who listened to her talk about what she was going through and didn’t believe she was in serious danger.” “We must not allow what happened to go unanswered and without investigation.”

Photo boards filled with images of Vera Kislyak and her daughters, Vivian, 7, and Emilia, 4, inside the memorial service for Kislyak at the Buffalo Grove Community Arts Center on December 16, 2022.

Since a December 5 news release in which Buffalo Grove Police Chief Brian Budds announced that evidence showed Andrei Kislyak committed the murders, Buffalo Grove police have declined several Freedom of Information Act requests from the Chicago Tribune. Is seeking records that have multiple police contacts. Family, case reports and body camera or dash camera footage from those incidents.

State Sen. Adrian Johnson, who lives in Buffalo Grove, talked about the resources available to anyone experiencing domestic violence or friends who want to help someone escape domestic abuse.

“I think someone mentioned they didn’t have enough information to report (the situation) to the Department of Children and Family Services,” Johnson said. “Report it to my office. We’ll help you.”

Baron Harmon, a neighbor who befriended the children and Vera as they passed the house on frequent walks, shared a story about the family dog, Yosha, whom he called “the alpha dog”, and then One story about Vivian was the “consummate sister”.

“I remember one time Emilia was doing one of those little girls where they used to spin and she lost her balance and fell and hurt her knee,” Harmon said. “He started crying. I remember Vivian came over and kissed him and gave him a beautiful hug at the end, like, ‘It’s going to be okay.’ And it worked.

As Harmon’s speech ended, he looked up at the ceiling and said that he was sure that Vera, Vivian, and Emilia were “looking for each other” in heaven, as they did throughout their lives. He then recalled the morning snow that blanketed the northern suburbs before service began on Friday.

“I thought, ‘How appropriate that we have the frozen tears of angels coming down,'” Harmon said. “A million angels are crying over this.”

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