Buddhist temple

Family and monks from across the country gather at a Buddhist temple to remember Jessica Vilaythong, a bank teller stabbed to death in River North

CHICAGO (CBS) – Last month, River North bank teller Jessica Vilaythong died after being stabbed at work.

On Tuesday evening, family and friends kept Vilaythong’s name alive through tradition and faith. They invited Charlie De Mar from CBS 2 to their sacred service.

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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 across the country came to the temple to honor the 24-year-old and her family.

“She did some good things. She went to the bank to do it – she volunteered to do everything in the community, ”Vilaythong’s aunt Phuong Le said. “But she passed away for no reason.”

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

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

Police believe it was a random attack.

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

“I hope this is a warning that the city and the government do something for us,” Le said.

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

Buddhists cry for 49 days. Vilaythong’s aunt said Tuesday was the 48th day – and with each passing day, her family are still trying to figure out why.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Le said.

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De Mar also spoke with Vilaythong’s father. He said his family had no anger at the man accused of killing his daughter – but he wants the system to work, he wants accountability and he wants the man who killed his daughter to be convicted and detained behind bars.