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Press conference scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Mokena native Aaron Toppen, a Lincoln-Way East graduate, was among five American troops killed by friendly fire Monday, June 9, during a security operation in southern Afghanistan, a family friend said.

Toppen was 19.

“It’s very tragic,” said Jennie Swartz, the family friend who spoke to The Mokena Messenger by phone Tuesday, June 10.

Danielle Tabor

Aaron Toppen grew up dreaming of serving his country.

Though he and family members knew his enlisting would come with an unavoidable degree of risk, they held firm and united — a tight-knit group — in supporting his ambition, keeping close from the time he was a tot to a teen.

Rebecca Susmarski

A 20-year-old Mokena man was charged with burglary and possession of burglary tools at 19900 S. LaGrange Road in Mokena after police were called to the report of a suspect in a gray hoodie attempting to break into a business.

Brian Sweeney, of 19903 Fiona Ave., in Mokena, was charged after police said security cameras showed the suspect attempting to break into the front door of the business and then trying to open the drive-thru window. 

Rebecca Susmarski

Mokena teen who allegedly resisted police arrested again

A Mokena 19-year-old who police subdued with a stun gun during an alleged altercation in early April was arrested again Sunday, April 27, this time allegedly with 368 Xanax pills and marijuana in his possession.

Robert M. Hollingsworth, 19, of the 11400 block of Abbey Road, was arrested on charges of possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver, possession of marijuana, underage drinking and driving on the wrong side of the road. 

Will O'Brien

Pam Toppen takes a seat in a Starbucks cafe next to her daughter, Amanda Gralewski, as she smiles and enthusiastically introduces her baby granddaughter, a certain bitter sweetness though as it was roughly a year ago that Toppen found out about her while having to plan to funeral.

A little while later, she shows off her dog tags with her late son’s military photo proudly imprinted – something she never leaves her home without.

Rebecca Susmarski

No music is playing, rather just the sound of pouring rain, some bickering among park visitors and a tyrannosaurus rex with a dangerous combination of curiosity and appetite, who has made its way out of captivity.

Danny Ciamprone

Farmers markets, outdoor movies, trips to the pool, festivals, parades, cruise nights and fireworks. There is no shortage of activities when it comes to summer in the southwest suburbs. And 22nd Century Media has 101 ideas for readers to get out and enjoy their communities this summer. We provided 50 ideas in print and now have 51 more online. Enjoy!

1. One Fish, Two Fish ... Time to Find All the Fish

Will O'Brien

The call of the wild beats in us all. 

For some, it is a subtle tapping that is satisfied after a hike through the woods. For others, the drumming is constant enough to compel daily outdoor activity. And then there are still others, like Mokena native Jill Castiglia, who cannot ignore the thunderous internal beat. 

That call forces action.

Danny Ciamprone

Since finishing high school, a group of Mokena and Frankfort natives have gone on to excel at Olivet Nazarene University both on and off the softball diamond.

Cheryl Sendzik, Caitlin Santefort, Hannah Gardner and Megan Butler all made big contributions to the Tigers’ 49-5-1 season, conference championship and NAIA World Series appearance, said longtime Olivet Coach Ritchie Richardson.

“The year itself has been fantastic, and these girls are a big reason why,” he said. 

Rebecca Susmarski

Carollo

Lauren Katherine Carollo, 17, of Mokena, died suddenly May 22. She was the daughter of Randy and Ginger Lee (nee Lyons) Carollo; granddaughter of Dolly and step-granddaughter of Beverly; and niece of Kathy (Kenny) Schwartz, Peggy Beke, Peter, Bobby (Lisa), David (Ronda) and Johnny (Lynn) Carollo, Dawn (Bill) Morrison, Tammy (Paul) Litchenberg and Thomas and Frank Lyons. She had 14 cousins. Services were held at Vandenberg Funeral Home. Interment private.

Curtis

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