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Murder of suburban Chicago wrestler

Visitation and funeral this week will be held a for slain 15-year-old suburban high school wrestler from suburban Chicago this week whose mat coach as well as a high school principal described at charismatic, quiet and hard-working.

Elias Valdez
Visitation for Elias Valdez, a rising sophomore at Glenbrook South High School in north-suburban Chicago will be from 3 to 5 p.m. this Thursday, with no more than 50 mourners at a time, at Ahlgrim Funeral Home, 201 N. Northwest Hwy. in Palatine.

A funeral Mass will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Friday at the funeral home, and burial will take place at St. Michael the Archangel Cemetery, 1185 W. Algonquin Road in Palatine., Ill.

The North Regional Major Crimes Task Force was heading the investigation into what police say was the village's first murder since 2004.

Valdez, who was stabbed to death Aug. 5, was remembered by Titans assistant wrestling coach Chris Albandia as unassuming yet charismatic.

"He had almost like this magnetic personality where people wanted to talk to him; people kind of wanted to sidle up to him," said Albandia, a teacher who saw Valdez not just on the wrestling mat but also in Glenbrook South's structured study period.

Albandia said the 2019-20 wrestling season was Valdez's first foray into extracurricular activities at Glenbrook South.

"He really showed he had potential there -- he's a hard worker. He's got some ability," Albandia said.

After training in the 126-pound division, Valdez went 0-2 in his first competition, Albandia recalled. The coach expected a "woe is me" attitude from the freshman, he said, but Valdez surprised him.

Perhaps just as surprising ... Valdez made a favorable impression on Glenbrook South High School's principal.

Valdez, who lived in unincorporated Glenview, was a rising sophomore at Glenbrook South High School, according to an email from the school's principal to the school community.

The 15-year-old, who was a member of the school's wrestling team, was described by principal Dr. Lauren S. Fagel as "a kind, charismatic young man who exhibited great leadership qualities."

"...We're glad we had the time we did have with Elias and know a void has been left," Dr. Fagel added. "...Elias deeply loved his mom and family. The many adults who worked with Elias appreciated his devotion to his family, his kindness to others, and his ability to quickly make friends and make others feel welcome. We will miss Elias and his endearing spirit, and we will always remember him as a true Titan."

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