Classmates remember slain friend 13 years later
By Denise Crosby email@example.com September 22, 2013 4:00PM
Louis Sacckette | Submitted
Updated: October 24, 2013 6:25AM
It could easily be argued that the young man in this picture is one reason Aurora’s streets are safer these days.
Louis Sacckette was helping his girlfriend’s family install a water heater on the evening of Oct. 19, 2000, when he stepped out on the porch to have a cigarette. At the same time, a group of teens coming back into the East Side neighborhood from a bonfire at the high school were walking past his house. Just then, occupants of a van drove by and opened fire on the kids.
Sacckette, shot once, died three hours later.
It was a case of the 30-year-old father of two being in the wrong place at the wrong time, police said, which was happening way too often in Aurora during those ugly days. No one has ever been charged in his death.
Six weeks before her son was killed, Cheryl Maraffio said Louis, who had been employed the previous eight years with a St. Charles manufacturing company, came to her and announced he’d finally figured out what his role in life was:
She recalls his words vividly: “Mom, I want to make Aurora a better place.”
Since then, the grieving mother has become a major player in Aurora’s anti-violence movement. In addition to being the driving force behind the Association for Individual Development victim service unit, which is now in seven communities, she also became involved with the Prayer Coalition. Maraffio also worked tirelessly with the YWCA’s Week without Violence; and until the grant money ran out in 2009, she worked part-time with the city’s anti-violence initiative.
While Lou Sacckette never got a chance to make his final mark in this world directly, that doesn’t mean he did not impact others in a life cut far too short.
“There was always something special about Lou,” said Michael Erhart, who graduated with Sacckette in 1988 from Aurora Central Catholic High School. “And when he was killed, some of us never got the chance to mourn him or come together to honor him.”
That’s why some of his high school buddies have planned a celebration they are dubbing Lou-Fest on Oct. 19, the 13th anniversary of his death, at Mike & Denise’s Pizzeria & Pub.
As so many of these stories go, these high school buds traveled different paths in life but tried to stay in touch as the years turned to decades. Some struggled more than others, says Erhart, who admitted he ended up at Hesed House, where he’d once volunteered as a kid, for a short time before moving to Michigan and getting his life back on track.
He now lives in Ottawa, as does another high school friend, John Trammel. These two men, as well as local classmates Brian Hess and Brad Jenbruczek, are among the group helping to pull together Lou-Fest.
“Share a memory and a laugh,” reads the Facebook page devoted to the event. “Bring a picture and tell a story too …”
And there are many stories to tell, laughs Erhart.
Maraffio said she “was floored” when she found out what these classmates were planning. She will, of course, be among the guests, as will Lou’s sister Amy McDonald, who lives in Phoenix, and his two daughters, who were ages 5 and 9 when their father was killed. (Go to www.facebook.com/events/167750493417730/ for more information; or call McDonald at 623-521-9644.)
“I don’t think we ever got a chance to really let people know how special Lou was,” says Erhart. Thirteen years later, “I guess this is about closure.”