A new normal: Jennifer Shilling's journey to justice - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

A new normal: Jennifer Shilling's journey to justice

LA CROSSE (WXOW)--It's been 18 years since State Representative Jennifer Shilling's parents were murdered. Richard and Lynn Ehlenfeldt and five others were shot and killed on January 8th, 1993 during the robbery of the Ehlenfeldt's restaurant in Palatine, Illinois.

Jennifer says she will never fully recover from losing her parents in such a violent way. Instead, she refers to life without them as a new normal.

Jennifer Shilling treasures moments like these, playing a board game with her two sons. It's something Jennifer remembers doing with her parents. But Jennifer's boys will never have the chance to play with or even meet their grandparents. "You just fall to your knees in disbelief and you just can't imagine at 23, my youngest sister was 18, that we were without our Mom and Dad."

Jennifer's pain continues today. "I hate the word closure. You just learn to live with the pain. You have a new normal in your life."

Holidays and birthdays as you can imagine are tough, but it's everyday things that Jennifer says hurt the most. "I still have my Mom's recipes. I love to look at her writing."

And, she still can't return to the place that reminds her of what happened the night her parents were killed. "I didn't know it was happening, but I was out to dinner at a restaurant and I've never been able to go back to the restaurant in 18 years. It's here in La Crosse and I can't go back there."

An Illinois jury found two men guilty of the Ehlenfeldt's deaths and sentenced them to life in prison. However both men say they are innocent. "People have asked me do you forgive them? I don't. Some people have said it will help in my healing journey. For me, I'm indifferent. For me that's the f word. I cannot do that."

Jennifer is still living with the pain. "I don't like to call myself a victim. My sisters and I are survivors."

She has vowed not to let her parent's killers hurt her anymore. "There were really dark days that we had to get through and we were able to do it."

Instead of their deaths, Jennifer is focused on how her parents lived. "I think of the very. I don't want to cry. I look back at the very warm loving home I grew up with and I want that for my two sons; for my family."

Powered by Frankly