UPDATED, Dec. 20, 7:11 p.m.
The family has asked that all those wishing to contribute, please do so with a monetary donation to CNB, Oak Forest, 5459 W. 159th St. Checks should be made payable to CNB Bank and Trust, Rodriguez Family Fund. If someone would like to make an electronic deposit, they should contact the bank directly at 708-535-8905.
The Oak Forest community is banding together in support of the Rodriguez family, who lost their mother and their home Tuesday, Dec. 18.
Following a fire at the Rodriguez family home in the 15200 block of S. Central Avenue, and the revelation that Erica Rodriguez's death was ruled a strangulation homicide, the family is in shock.
"Right now our entire family is trying to come to terms with this devastating news and we truly appreciate all the prayers and word of encouragement," said Steve Johnson, a cousin of Erica Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was a devoted hospice nurse and a mother to three children, ages 17, 15, and 6.
"Anybody she was around, loved her," Johnson said. "She was one of those upbeat type of people who got along with everybody. Very outgoing."
Family and friends of Erica Rodriguez and the Oak Forest Police Department announced that a fund is being set up at the CNB – Oak Forest, 5459 W. 159th Street, to accept monetary donations. Checks should be made payable CNB Bank and Trust Rodriguez Family Fund. If someone would like to make an electronic deposit, they should contact the bank directly at 708-535-8905.
Oak Forest Police Chief Greg Anderson added in the release that when a tragedy comes to a community, 'everyone feels the pain and we have to help each other any way we can.'
Oak Forest school officials have also begun efforts to help the Rodriguez children—a junior and freshman Oak Forest High School, and a student at Foster Elementary—during their time of need.
The three children are currently with their grandfather in central Illinois, while their father remains in the hospital.
Officials at the high school, where Erica was a 1990 graduate, said that the school is collecting donations of clothes, money, food and anything else that could help the family, at the main office. Donations will be collected through the holiday season and beginning of the year at the school's main office, which will remain open during the winter holiday break.
Foster Elementary and all other schools in the Forest Ridge School District 142 are also coming together to support the family, Foster Principal Curt Beringer said. Beringer said that staff members are conducting a voluntary gift card drive, with staff bringing in $10 cards to local merchants that can help feed and clothe the family. The gift cards will be given to the family Friday, Dec. 21.
Beringer added that any donations from members of the Oak Forest community are also welcome and should be brought to Foster Elementary School by the end of the school day Thursday, Dec. 20.
Oak Forest Girls Softball, the Oak Forest Park District and AC Variety are also holding a gift and clothing drive for the family. Items can be dropped off at the Oak Forest Park District or at the Ferralez residence, 15210 S. Laramie Ave.
Information on clothing sizes and other essential needs of the family will be available shortly.
Medical Examiner: Woman Found Dead After Fire Was Strangled