After morning Mass at St. Victor Catholic Church in Calumet City, members of the congregation poured out onto the sidewalk Sunday to march to the home of Egedio "Joe" Dinelli.
The 88-year-old World War II veteran was found slain inside his garage earlier this month. About 100 people joined in song as they followed Burnham Avenue to the red brick Cape Cod-style home on Greenbay Ave., where a prayer vigil took place.
Among the crowd were neighbors and fellow parishioners, off-duty Calumet City police officers and family members, including Dinelli's 90-year-old brother-in-law and 95-year-old sister.
Sharon Santelli, of Burnham, and her husband, Dino, often saw Dinelli at morning Mass.
"I think it's a great thing that the community is coming out and fighting crime," she said. "He was beaten to death and was in his 80s. Why would someone do that?"
Her husband added: "The only thing you can do is hopefully stop it from happening again."
Lifelong Calumet City resident George French said his family and Dinelli's were close even before he was born. French criticized Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush and aldermen for not attending the vigil.
"People have got to penetrate the city with phone calls when something is up," French said. "They need to be made aware of it."
George McDade, a volunteer chairman with Cook County Crime Stoppers, passed out fliers offering a $1,000 cash award for information leading to an arrest in Dinelli's murder.
"This was a brutal crime," he said. "There's no sense to it all."
Crime Stoppers is a nonprofit organization that aims to help police solve violent crimes.
"Some people won't talk to police. They can call us and we offer anonymity," said McDade. "We don't want to know who you are. We just want information to help solve the crime."
The Rev. Leonard Dubi, pastor of St. Victor, read a passage stating "bless those who curse you" while reminding the crowd "we don't have to take this lying down." He urged those present to report suspicious activity in their neighborhoods and "unite across all the lines that could divide us."
Dinelli's death is the fourth homicide this year in Calumet City. He was from a large family and had nine siblings. He had lived with one of his sisters until her death about three months ago, said Dinelli's niece, April Crawford.
"He was a very, wonderful loving man. There was nothing he wouldn't do for you if he could help. He loved planting his tomatoes and he loved his family," she said. "I really miss him."
Anyone with information on the murder can contact the Calumet City Tip Line at (708) 891-STOP (7867) or make an anonymous call to Cook County Crime Stoppers at (800) 535-STOP (7867).