Watch CBS News

Family, Monks From Around Country Gather At Buddhist Temple To Remember Jessica Vilaythong, Bank Teller Stabbed To Death In River North

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Last month, River North bank teller Jessica Vilaythong died after being stabbed on the job.

On Tuesday night, family and friends kept Vilaythong's name alive through tradition and faith. They invited CBS 2's Charlie De Mar into their sacred service.

Vilaythong's parents led a ceremony at the Chùa Quang Minh Buddhist temple at 4429 N. Damen Ave. in Lincoln Square. More than 30 Buddhist monks from around the country came to the temple to honor the 24-year-old and her family.

"She did good things. She went to the bank to do this — she volunteered to do all of it in the community," said Vilaythong's aunt, Phuong Le. "But she passed away just for no reason."

Last month, Vilaythong was in the lobby of the Chase Bank at 600 N. Dearborn St. when authorities said Jawaun Westbrooks, 35, walked in. He had a knife and a history of mental illness.

Police say Westbrooks stabbed Vliaythong in the neck. She died days later.

Police believe it was a random attack.

In 2014, Westbrooks was accused of attacking two women with a hammer. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

"I wish this will be a warning bell for the city and government to do something for us," Le said.

Vilaythong had just moved into a new apartment with her partner and their two pets. She graduated from the University of Illinois in 2020.

Buddhists mourn for 49 days. Vilaythong's aunt said Tuesday was the 48th day - and with each passing day, her family still trying to understand why.

"It doesn't make sense," Le said.

De Mar also spoke with Vilaythong's father. He said his family has no anger toward the man accused of killing his daughter – but he does want the system to work, he does want accountability, and he does want the man who killed his daughter to be found guilty and held behind bars.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.