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Another JW kills family
Chicago JW murders family

Another JW family killed see this link for similar stories,

Family of three murdered in Harvey

December 1, 2004



Vinese Bell-Kracht had decided it was time for her and her 1-year-old son, Emery, to move on with their lives.

The 21-year-old bank clerk had had enough of the domestic abuse she said she suffered at the hands of her troubled husband of almost two years, Martin Kracht, relatives said. After the last incident more than a month ago, she'd filed charges, had him arrested and sought a restraining order against him, according to court records.

And she had started that new life, with a new job and a new apartment.

But Bell-Kracht's life came to a sudden and violent end Monday, police said. She, her son and her mother-in-law, Barbara Baker-Kracht, 52, were found murdered in Baker-Kracht's Harvey home. The three died at the hands of 24-year-old Martin Kracht, who less than two weeks ago moved in with the mother he allegedly killed, police and relatives said.

Chilling discovery

On Tuesday, members ofBell-Kracht's close-knit family gathered at their south suburban Richton Park home, struggling to understand the tragedy that had befallen the young mother, child and grandmother.

Police made the chilling discovery of the bodies at Baker-Kracht's home in the 15000 block of South Marshfield Avenue in Harvey about 9 p.m. Monday.

"It was a well-being check that was requested by a family member," said Harvey Police spokeswoman Sandra Alvarado.

Shortly after the bodies were found, Harvey Police arrested Kracht on a tip from relatives, who knew he was hiding in a garage only blocks away.

Kracht was expected to be charged with three counts of first-degree murder late Tuesday, according to Harvey Police and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.

"This appears to be domestic-related homicide," Alvarado said. "It was not a random act of violence. This is a senseless tragedy."

Police would not say how the three died, but they noted none of the victims was shot.

'Seemed like nice people'

Neighbors in the quiet neighborhood where Baker-Kracht recently bought her home milled outside their houses, helping each other grapple with the horror.

"When they first moved in, I came out to welcome them to the neighborhood. He and his mother seemed like nice people," Denise Lollis, who has lived across the street for 23 years, said Tuesday. "I have never, ever seen anything like this. This has been rough. It just keeps you praying."

Police said they may never know what triggered the killings.

Bell-Kracht's family said she had met her husband in 2002 through her brother, who had invited Martin Kracht to join the Jehovah's Witnesses faith her family practiced. Martin Kracht had attended Thornton Township North High School with Bell-Kracht's brother, Shaun Winston, graduating in 1998, Winston recalled.

Kracht began visiting the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses at 150 E. 124th Pl., in Chicago with Winston and his family of six siblings.

"He acknowledged he was living a life of debauchery, and said he wanted clean up life. He was baptized a Jehovah's Witness, "Winston said. "He met my sister, and they liked each other. I advised her against it," he added, choking back tears.

Winston's advice went unheeded. The pair dated for five months before marrying. But Kracht, then living with a friend in Harvey, was unable to support his new wife, floating from job to job, Winston said. So Dennis and Sherry Harris, Bell-Kracht's parents, allowed Kracht to move in with his wife and her family in Richton Park.

That's when the trouble started.

"He started pushing on her and she was pregnant. One time he pushed her down," Winston said. "That was when my father talked to him, and kicked him out."

Sought restraining order

The abuse reportedly got worse, culminating in an October incident that resulted in Bell-Kracht seeking a restraining order against her husband, barring him from her home in Richton Park. But on Nov. 8 she appeared in court in Markham and asked that both the protection order and the abuse charges be dismissed.

"The victim didn't wish to proceed," said Marcy Jensen, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state's attorney's office. "We don't know why."

Last summer, relatives said, Bell-Kracht had become convinced it was time to give up on her marriage and move on. She landed a job at Charter One Bank in Homewood and only last week secured a small apartment in south suburban Steger for herself and her son.

On Saturday, her family helped her move in, and on Sunday Kracht came to Kingdom Hall asking to see his son, her relatives said. Bell-Krachtacquiesced, letting him take the boy for a day and arranging to pick upEmeryon Monday evening.

"But on Monday, we didn't hear from her after work, which was unusual for Vinese. We knew something had happened when the police called."

Contributing: Stefano Esposito, Annie Sweeney, Lisa Donovan and Cheryl V. Jackson


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