ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Destiny Huggins, 10, and her 6-year-old sister spent a lot of time at Rock House Kids, a recreational and learning center for Rockford children.
On Saturday afternoon, police say she was kidnapped and murdered by a Chicago-area sex offender. Her sister was also abducted and nearly killed, but managed to escape.
“You know, it could have been one of my own,” said neighbor Jessica Daehler. “I could have been out here with my daughter playing with chalk or something and this man could have walked up. He could have grabbed me and my daughter. It could have been anybody just walking around this neighborhood.”
According to police, around 12:07 p.m., Destiny’s mother told authorities that the 6-year-old had come home and told her a man had taken her sister from outside their 9th Avenue home.
Around 12:40 p.m., a man reported finding Destiny’s body outside an abandoned home in the 1200 block of 9th Avenue.
Antonio Monroe, 44, was arrested a short time later after a police K9 located him near Woodruff Avenue. Monroe is a registered Illinois sex offender from Blue Island, a suburb of Chicago.
Police said both girls showed evidence of strangulation. Monroe has been charged with murder, attempted murder, two counts of kidnapping, and aggravated battery.
Daehler lives next door to where Destiny was found.
She spoke with the girls’ father on Saturday afternoon.
“He said, ‘Yeah, I’m her father,'” Daehler recalled. “And I noticed that he had a little six-year-old girl with him. And he said, ‘This is my other daughter. This is my daughter that was with her and escaped. And I brought them back to, you know, so the sister could see show us where she was brought.'”
Dee Lacny, the director of Rock House Kids, located at 1325 7th Street, said the girls thought of the center as a second home.
“We always knew when Destiny was in the building. She loved sparkles and she had this purple lipgloss that she was wearing and she came in and she [had a] misty look … And and then later that day, I walked into our chapel and there were purple lip prints, and she had kissed our wall, you know? And now I wish I didn’t wipe it off,” Lacny said.
She went on to say that explaining what happened to the girls to the other Rock House Kids will be a challenge.
“Tonight, we are going to talk to the kids and let them know what happened on a kid level and then also have counselors here and just try and answer any questions that they have. And [let them] know that they’re safe in here,” Lacny said.
A GoFundMe has been set up to pay for funeral expenses for Destiny.
If you are a survivor of domestic or sexual violence, visit our Stateline Strong page for resources.