Debra Suzanne Happ
24 Years Old

June 1, 1973 to June 11, 1997

Debra is one of four children and our only daughter.

She has an older brother Brian, who was 26 at the time of her death, a twin brother Don, and Greg, who was 22 years old and the baby of the family.

Maybe being the only girl is what made Deb the feisty, intense and independently crazy person that she was!

At the time of her death, Debbie was a student at Loyola University in Chicago, majoring in Theater and English Literature. She was also a lover of music and wanted desparately to take voice lessons. When I told her I couldn't afford them at this time, she became even more determined and eventually found the means to accomplish this goal on her own.

Another goal was to work her way up to "Saturday Night Live" - because she knew she would be "discovered" once she got there. Deb had a great sense of humor and the personality to succeed. Six weeks before she was murdered, she started doing stand-up comedy, several nights a week at a Chicago club. She was on top of the world!

Deb also worked with the senior citizens at the Natalie Salmon House on Sheridan Drive in Chicago. One morning her manager related the story about hearing a lot of laughter coming from the dining room. When she got to the doorway, she was Debbie leading everyone around the room singing, "I heard it through the grapevine."

She loved people and she loved God even more. We miss her deeply.


Debbie was murdered on June 11, 1997 in Chicago, Illinois.

Will Riley (27) and Sirena Smith (18) were arrested for her murder. They both gave written confessions to the murder. They were robbing her boyfriend's apartment and not expecting her to be there. She asked them to leave and when they refused, she screamed for help at which time they brutalized her, in the end, smashing her head open with a crow bar. They said, "It was like smashing a watermelon!" Both murderers are in Cook County Jail, but as of yet they have not been brought to trial. The have claimed lack of probable cause, police brutality forcing them to confess, and were granted hearings on each of these. Then they claimed they are, "mentally incapable to understand the repercussions of their actions." It is 3 years and 3 months since Debbie was murdered with no trial date in sight. Along with all the other maneuvering, in June, one court appointed defense lawyer didn't show up for a scheduled exchange of evidence. In July and August of this year, the Judge simply didn't show for the scheduled hearings to possibly set a trial date!

The speculation now is the trial may be in January, 2001.

Let's talk about justice!

back to 20

Debra Happ