‘Everyone loved her’: Parents mourn daughter killed at Joliet Township Halloween party

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Newly engaged 22-year-old was one of two peopled killed Saturday night

JOLIET, Ill. — Beautiful, energetic, and a hard worker all her life: that’s how the parents of a woman killed in a mass shooting at a Joliet Township Halloween party Saturday described their daughter.

“She’s going to be missed by a lot of people, including me,” said an emotional Sharyl Mathews, who told WGN News Monday that she remembers the last time she spoke to her 22-year-old daughter, Holly.

“It was Saturday before she headed out to a Halloween party,” she said. “We made plans for her to come over here and carve pumpkins and give the candy to the trick-or-treaters and have a good day of Halloween festivities.”

Police said officers responded to 10 to 12 gunshots heard just before 12:40 a.m. Saturday night in the area of Jackson Street and Walnut Street in Joliet Township. According to police, more than 200 people packed the backyard of a residence for a Halloween party.

Sharyl Mathews said Holly arrived after midnight and was getting ready to leave when shots rang out.

“When she got there, she felt a bad vibe,” Sharyl Mathews said. “She was like, ‘I don’t want to be here. ‘I don’t want to be here. Let’s go,’ and they were there for like a couple of seconds.”

Police say two gunmen fired into the crowd from a porch overlooking the backyard – injuring more than a dozen people.  

Holly Mathews and Jonathan Ceballos, both 22 years old, died in the shooting.

Mathew’s mom searched for her daughter at local hospitals early Sunday morning.  

“They said go home and wait for a phone call. I waited and waited, and at 6 o’clock in the morning, there was a knock on the door,” Sharyl Mathews said. “I fell on the ground. Right when I heard the doorbell ring, I fell on the ground. I knew.”   

Sharyl Mathews said Holly was studying to become an arborist at Joliet Junior College. Her parents say she just got engaged two weeks ago in Utah.

“She was just an incredible person. Everyone loved her,” said Holly’s father, Stephen Mathews.

The Mathews family is working closely with the authorities to find those responsible for her death.

“That’s what she’d want. She’d want that. You gotta go on and figure out what would she want us to do,” Charyl Mathews said.  

The Will County Sheriff’s Office updated the number of people hospitalized after Sunday’s early morning shooting. Preliminary reports said more than a dozen people were injured, but a spokeswoman said Monday afternoon that a total of nine people were hospitalized for injuries connected to the shooting in addition to those who died. One person remained in critical condition and three remained hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. Five others were treated and released.

“Multiple gunshots were fired during the incident. It appears that this incident was gang-related,” the office said in a news release. “Detectives have collected a substantial amount of evidence and are continuing to interview witnesses. Some victims and partygoers are being uncooperative.”

The party was initially intended for a group of about 50 family members and friends, relatives of the hosts said. But social media posts promoting the party drew hundreds from surrounding communities, according to a news release from the Will County Sheriff’s Office.

Police ask anyone with information to contact the Will County Sheriff’s Office at (815) 727-8574 extension 4930 or e-mail dstrohm@willcosheriff.org. Anonymous tips can be reported here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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