suntimes
CHARMING 
Weather Updates

‘The devil took her,’ mother says as gunned-down Clemente student is laid to rest

Frances Conlon's mother Dorothy Paytcenter is comforted by Nicole Calyen-Payther niece during funeral for Clemente High School student Frances ColBethesdChurch

Frances Conlon's mother Dorothy Payton, center, is comforted by Nicole Calyen-Payton, her niece, during the funeral for Clemente High School student Frances Colon at Bethesda Church in Chicago, Ill., on Saturday, March 2, 2013. Frances Colon, 18, was fatally shot on February 15. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

storyidforme: 45522343
tmspicid: 16882937
fileheaderid: 7598214
Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: April 4, 2013 6:53AM



There was no choir, no call for hallelujah.

Dorothy Payton, the mother of 18-year-old Frances Colon — the third student from Clemente High School gunned down this school year — was filled with anger as she stood Saturday in front of her daughter’s white casket.

“She should not be here, getting buried in her graduation cap and gown,” Payton told mourners at Bethesda Christian Church. “She should be walking in that ceremony with her friends.”Colon’s casket was

adorned with white and yellow flowers, her school’s colors and the color of the gown she was buried in.

She dreamed of being a lawyer or a nurse, like her mother — she hadn’t decided yet. She loved cooking for her seven siblings and her parents. She loved fashion.

Her 16-year-old sister, Selena Colon, often reminded her: Be careful on the streets. The older girl would nod and smile and say, “I’m good, I’m good.”

Just hours after Frances Colon saw President Barack Obama’s Air Force One fly over the city in a visit prompted by the killing of another high school girl, Hadiya Pendleton, Selena Colon braided her sister’s hair and sent her on her way to a visit a friend on the West Side on Feb. 15.

“The last thing I said to her was, ‘I’ll see you later,’ ” Selena Colon said during the service Saturday.

Frances Colon was shot in the back after stopping at a snack shop. The bullet was meant for someone else, according to the police.

Larry Luellen Jr., 34, of Bolingbrook, is being held without bail for murder in Colon’s shooting in the 1100 block of North Pulaski.

Payton and Jose Colon, the slain teen’s father, weren’t planning to speak at Saturday’s service. Instead, they asked Victor Wood, a former member of the Gangster Disciples turned anti-violence advocate, to speak on behalf of the family. But they decided there was too much to say to keep quiet.

“I know this was not the type of funeral that everyone was expecting, but this is the way we wanted it to be,” Payton said. “I am angry. I’m an angry person because I know I should not be mad. My mother raised me in the church. I thought about giving her one of those church funerals, or ‘going home,’ as they call it. But I thought twice. . . . It wasn’t God who took her away. The devil took her.”

The mother of eight stood surrounded by her family, raising her voice against the violence affecting the city’s youth.

“No parent should be asking their kids: If you go before me, how would you want your funeral to be? But those are the questions I ask my kids because I know the world we live in,” Payton said. “So don’t think because of your color that it won’t reach your kids. . . . Don’t think because of your neighborhood it won’t reach your neighborhood. It will.”

Wood called Frances Colon’s death “a national tragedy and an outrage.”“We have failed to deal with this problem in this city. We don’t want to deal with the truth. You can’t call the children gangbangers and thugs. These are children. They come from our houses,” Wood said. “We got some crazies out there, but some of these kids, most, can be helped.”



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.