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A year later, Adrianne's death still haunts her parents
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A year later, Adrianne's death still haunts her parents

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EAST MOLINE -- Inside Adrianne Reynolds' bedroom, a black guitar with flames painted on the body rests in its stand. The Christmas present always will have a broken string, the way she left it.

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At first glance, the bedroom looks like any 16-year-old girl's room. Pink, pink and more pink. But, instead of posters of bands, framed photos of the beaming teen now adorn the yellow walls. A bookshelf is filled with Isabel Bloom statues from her funeral.

While Tony and Joanne Reynolds keep mementos of Adrianne, they only can cherish the memories of a teenage life cut short.

The teen was killed a year ago, and two classmates are facing murder charges.

"You miss the things that annoyed you," Adrianne's father said, describing music loud enough to shake the house and the 30-minute explanations she gave as to why she needed to go to the mall. "If she was here, I would take her wherever she wanted to go," he said.

Mrs. Reynolds said it's hard going into a mall and not buying pink things for her stepdaughter. "Adrianne would like that," she recalls often thinking.

Adrianne's family reported her missing one year ago today. They waited by the door hoping she would come home. Sometimes, they still do.

They imagine her earning her GED from Black Hawk Outreach Center, getting her driver's license and continuing to save her money from an after-school job at Checkers. She talked about joining the Marines.

They watch "American Idol" and imagine taking Adrianne to Chicago to try out the voice she showed off at almost every chance. "I know she would have at least made it past the first round," Mr. Reynolds said. "When she sang `Amazing Grace,' I cried every time."

Since police notified the Reynoldses that Adrianne was killed, they've learned about her death and gruesome dismemberment allegedly at the hands of classmates. It's still hard to talk about.

Mr. Reynolds cries occasionally talking about the daughter adopted at a young age and nicknamed "Little Bit." They had to lay a child to rest -- a parent's worst nightmare.

"I always told Adrianne to put flowers on my grave and keep the pigeons away," Mr. Reynolds said, pausing in tears before continuing. "I never thought I'd be putting them on hers.

"You're supposed to take care of your kids, but no one was there to help her," he said.

Sometimes Mr. Reynolds tries to blame himself for Adrianne's death, but he talks himself out of it.

"I know the last thing I said to Adrianne was 'I love you,'" he said. "If we had gone to bed fighting, I don't know if I would have made it."

Sarah Kolb, 17, of Milan, and Cory Gregory, 18, of Moline, remain in jail while their highly publicized cases go through the courts. Each is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of concealing a homicide.

Ms. Kolb was tried once in Rock Island County, but that trial ended in a mistrial. Her trial has been moved to Dixon, Ill. Mr. Gregory has yet to be tried. Both trials are scheduled to begin next month.

Mr. Reynolds said the hardest part of Ms. Kolb's trial was listening to Nathan Gaudet's testimony about how he dismembered the body.

"The part that just floored the courtroom was when he said he went to go get McDonald's afterwards," he said.

They heard testimony about Adrianne's sexual exploits in the days before her murder. Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds understood -- they were 16 once. At first they wondered why it was even brought up, but then they realized it played into potential motive for the murder. They found comfort hearing that she repeatedly turned down drugs.

But Mrs. Reynolds barely could handle hearing about Adrianne's actions in the moments before her murder. "When they said Adrianne cried," she said. "I wished I could have been there to save her."

When the relationship between Mr. Reynolds and his ex-wife, who is also Adrianne's biological grandmother and adopted mother, went sour, he found comfort with his current wife. The two were high school sweethearts in Sherrard and separated for 20 years.

When Adrianne moved to the Quad-Cities two months before her murder, she joined Mrs. Reynolds' twin boys in the family. There was tension at first, but after a while everything was coming together.

"She never said, 'you're not my mother,'" Mrs. Reynolds said.

Now, the house is a little quieter, a little more somber. There are still two more trials to go. Adrianne's family said she'll continue to be represented on the hard benches of any courtroom. Even if someone is held responsible for the murder, nothing will compensate the family for losing Adrianne.

"When it's all over, it's going to be the worst part because she won't come home," Mr. Reynolds said. "I just want to tell her, 'It's OK, you can come home now.'"

Memorial vigil today

It was one year ago today Adrianne Reynolds was reported missing and murdered. In honor of this tragic day, her family is planning a memorial where she and her accused killers were all students. Her family is planning on singing songs, including Adrianne's favorite, "Amazing Grace." The public is invited to attend. "I hope Adrianne will be looking down on us and will see how many people care," her stepmother Joanne Reynolds said.

What: Memorial for Adrianne Reynolds

Where: Black Hawk Outreach Center, 301 Avenue of the Cities, East Moline.

When: 5:30 p.m. today

Who: Her family invites the public to attend

The major players a year later ...

Adrianne Reynolds

Authorities say Adrianne Reynolds, 16, of East Moline, was strangled Jan. 21, 2005, by two classmates from Black Hawk Outreach Center in a car outside a Taco Bell in Moline. Her burned and dismembered body was found days later at a farm in rural Mercer County and the Black Hawk Historical Site in Rock Island. She had recently moved to the area from Texas.

Sarah Kolb

Sarah Kolb, 17, of Milan, is scheduled to be retried beginning Feb. 6 on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of concealment of a homicide. Her first trial ended in a mistrial. The trial will be held in Dixon, Ill., because Judge James T. Teros ruled Ms. Kolb couldn't receive a fair trial in Rock Island County. On the stand, Ms. Kolb said she didn't kill Ms. Reynolds, instead blaming Cory Gregory.

Cory Gregory

In a interview with WQAD NewsChannel 8, Cory Gregory, 18, of Moline, said Sarah Kolb killed Ms. Reynolds. He's scheduled to be tried on first-degree murder and concealment of a homicide charges Feb. 21 in Rock Island County. State's Attorney Jeff Terronez said he will probably ask for a delay in the trial, and Mr. Gregory's attorney, Steve Hanna, said he plans to ask for a venue change.

Nathan Gaudet

Nathan Gaudet, 17, of Moline, testified he dismembered Ms. Reynolds body and helped Ms. Kolb and Mr. Gregory dispose of it. He is scheduled for a parole hearing Jan. 31, but has said he doubts he'll get out of his undetermined sentence at the Illinois Youth Center in Harrisburg. He pleaded guilty to one count of concealing a homicidal death. He was punished as a juvenile in exchange for his testimony. During trial, he said Mr. Gregory and Ms. Kolb both played a role is Ms. Reynolds' murder.

Staff writer Brian Krans can be reached at (309) 786-6441, ext. 271.

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