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Roughly 25 boxes line the outside walls of a garage filled with assorted documents, as Jeff Dencek and Mark Mistretta work in mechanical rhythm, dumping the paper into large trash receptacles.

“This is called a purge,” said Dencek, co-owner of Shark Shredding in Mokena. “We’ll do a bunch of boxes for a purge.”

It was a cold Friday morning Feb. 12, as Dencek and Mistretta were on their first stop of the day at a Frankfort residency on Steeple Chase Drive helping to destroy assorted documents.

Danny Ciamprone

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
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

A 30-year-old Manhattan man who allegedly had sexual relations with a 16-year-old Mokena girl was apprehended by Mokena police Aug. 14 and transported to Will County Jail.

Ryan C. Benck, of 24644 Route 52, in Manhattan, was charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse and indecent solicitation of a child at his residence after the teen’s parents notified the Mokena Police Department, said Mokena police chief Steven Vaccaro.

Vaccaro said the suspect allegedly met the girl through an “app.” 

Danny Ciamprone

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

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

Jaime L. McInerney, 41, of 11138 First St. in Mokena, was charged July 6 with retail theft after allegedly attempting to steal multiple items from a retail store in the 11000 block of Lincoln Highway. McInerney allegedly had tried to steal from the store in the past, so was being monitored by a surveillance camera while in the store. Police said that the camera caught McInerney taking items from multiple sections of the store, removing them from their packaging and placing them in his pockets.

Amanda Jarzynski

Tinley Park police are searching for a pair of subjects who fled on foot into a cornfield Friday, July 29, after their vehicle struck two cars at the intersection of 191st Street and 80th Ave., police said.

Danielle Tabor

Leslie E. Schultz

Leslie E. Schultz, 49, of Joliet and formerly of Mokena, died Feb. 22. He is survived by his mother, Carol; cousin, Judy Mance; and several aunts and uncles. A funeral service was held at Vandenberg Funeral Home. Interment St. John’s Cemetery. 

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Tim Carroll

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