Through her relationship with his family and her job as the middle school nurse, Diane Dormeyer knew John Ollech his entire life. Ollech, 18, grew up a half-block from the school and was forever returning to the hallways to say hello to former teachers. Though he never really liked school, Ollech took a lasting shine to many of the adults in the building, and it seemed everyone at the school wanted to take “Little Ollech” under their wing.
“He was always on the verge of almost being in trouble,” Dormeyer said.
Ollech’s murder during the early morning hours of June 14 has left generations of family and friends with a grief made all the heavier by the circumstances of his death. A single .22-caliber bullet pierced his heart during what investigators believe was a drug deal gone bad. During a bond hearing for the two suspects charged with killing him, the prosecution said Ollech was selling marijuana when he was shot. Quavortis Harris, 18, and Joseph McKinnis, 17, decided to steal the drugs from Ollech, and when the Forest Park teen confronted them, Harris pulled the trigger, according to investigators.
Ollech was found at 3 a.m. in Maywood after an apparent car crash, but doctors later discovered a small puncture wound in his chest. He died within the hour. An autopsy performed the next day confirmed it was a homicide.
“I’ll have a very hard time believing anything negative about him,” Deborah Anetsberger, a close friend of Ollech’s father said.
Funeral services for Ollech were held June 18 and 19, and were attended by hundreds. On large posters, well-wishers wrote words of remembrance and expressed their disbelief that he could so suddenly be gone. For Dormeyer, her last encounter with Ollech was typical of his easy-going nature, she said. He was driving his beloved Chevrolet Suburban, absorbed by the music he loved to blast.
“He almost killed me,” Dormeyer said with a laugh. “Music blaring. I screamed at him, ‘Johnathon, you almost killed me.’ He stopped and turned the music down and said, ‘Oh, hi Mrs. Dormeyer. My bad.'”
Constantly active, Ollech played sports as a child and became a familiar face at the park district on Harrison. Even on rainy days, said Casey Close, a lifeguard at the pool, Ollech would show up to chat.
“He was one of the pool rats,” Close, 24, said. “He was a good kid.”
Ollech eventually was hired by the parks to do general maintenance and help mow lawns. He would do anything asked of him. His interest in all things mechanical also prompted him to throw himself into the haunted house staged at the park in 2008. Ollech spent countless hours building and designing the sets, and starred as a chainsaw-wielding maniac.
Ollech was recently hired to do lighting and stage effects, and on the night he was killed had driven back from Wisconsin where he was working at a drag race. He graduated from Proviso East earlier this year, after transferring to the school from St. Joseph’s in Westchester. During his freshman year, Ollech’s mother, Marianne, died of lung cancer.
“Inseparable,” Cathy McDermott, a longtime family friend said of Ollech’s relationship with his mom. “He had her smile and that was part of his appeal.”
Harris and McKinnis, the two charged in Ollech’s death, are each facing a first-degree murder charge and one count of armed robbery. Harris is being held without bail and a Cook County Circuit Court judge ordered McKinnis held in lieu of $1 million.
According to Maywood Police Chief Tim Curry, the suspects have an “affiliation” with the Gangster Disciples street gang. There was no mention of alleged gang affiliations during the suspects’ hearing. Harris is a resident of the 1600 block of S. 18th Avenue in Maywood, according to police, and McKinnis lives on the 7200 block of S. Champlain in Chicago.