Lacey Claire Gaines was born to Jill and Jeff Gaines of Grand Park, IL on December 1, 1989. She was their youngest child. Being the little sis of older brothers she grew up to have that endearing tom-boyish and outgoing spirit that a girl tends to develop when they spend their early years trying to “keep up with the boys”.
Lacey at 8 years old
Lacey would continue to have that out-going, heart-stealing and effervescent personality through-out her short life. As she grew through adolescence she made many long-term friends who today miss her light, and wonder why it was stolen from their lives so quickly. Those dear friends stretch from Illinois to Paris. When Lacey was in high school her family hosted an exchange student, Cedric Reveillere from France. Cedric stayed with the Gaines family for 1 year. Eventually Lacey was able to take a trip to Paris with a group of friends and she got the opportunity to spend some time with Cedric and his family as well. Lacey was 15 years old when she professed her teenage love for him. Lacey would continue to adore Cedric from afar for another year.
Cedric was not the only friend Lacey made in France. There was also Julien Caherec. Lacey and Julien would remain friends through the rest of her short life. She spoke to him through text messages, online messaging and phone calls through-out the years. Julien even came to America to visit Lacey in 2007. They called each other their best friends, and Lacey referred to Julien as “juju”. Their last phone conversation was December 4th, 2009, only 3 days before her murder. Julien misses Lacey and wants to know who took his friend from this world.
When Lacey was 16 years old she began a sexual relationship with a man 10 years older than her. His name was Regelio “Daniel” Sanchez and he worked in Lacey’s uncle Vic’s restaurant. In March 2007 Lacey became pregnant. She was 17 years old. Daniel did not want to marry her. And it was at this time that Lacey’s life began to change. In reading the brief history of Lacey’s life, it appears that Lacey’s parents did not react favorably to the news their daughter was pregnant. Instead of taking legal action against a man who had obviously had sexual relations with a minor, they chose to declare Lacey emancipated, allegedly due to insurance reasons, and Lacey went to live with Daniel’s family in a small house in Steger, Illinois. Lacey would begin to complain to friends and family members that she felt she was being taken advantage of. Eventually Lacey and Daniel would move into a small rented house they shared with Daniel’s brother Abraham. Lacey shared with confidants that she was sending $300 a month back to Mexico on Daniel’s requests.
There began to be signs to Lacey’s friends and loved ones that Daniel was abusive. She arrived at her grandfather’s funeral, in 2007 while still pregnant, very upset beyond the loss of her grandfather. She would later confide that Daniel had beaten her in the parking lot. Daniel had just been fired from his job by Lacey’s uncle Victor and didn’t want Lacey attending her own grandfather’s funeral because of that. When they arrived at the funeral Daniel became enraged when Lacey hugged Victor’s son, Adam…so Daniel beat her.
On January 3, 2008, just before her 18th birthday, Lacey gave birth to a beautiful little boy, Conor.
In April 2008 Lacey began to speak to Julien in their phone calls about Daniel abusing her. She also confided in another close friend, Josh Vinson, about the abuse. Lacey even fled to Josh’s house at one point, arriving beaten and scared. She told Josh that Daniel was trying to steal her spirit, but she wouldn’t let him. Josh would later tell of seeing Lacey many times with black eyes and bruises.
In May 2008 Lacey’s father bought a house and refurbished it, allowing Daniel and Lacey to move in. Lacey’s parents also gave Daniel a car to drive, and supplied him a phone. In November 2008, after invitations had already been mailed out, Lacey called off her impending marriage to Daniel after he pushed her head through a wall and choked her until she passed out. It is unknown how brutal this particular beating would have been if Daniel’s brother, Abraham, had not been there to pull him off her.
Shortly after Lacey and Daniel’s break up Lacey began a relationship with Juan Valadez. In February 2009 Lacey began to voice fear to others because Daniel was sending her threatening text messages and had stolen her mail. Daniel went so far as to call contacts listed on her bills. It is unknown to this writer what the purpose of contacting these individuals was. A police report was filed and Lacey fled to a shelter. During this period of time Lacey’s friend, Julien, states Lacey had to change her phone number numerous times due to harassment from Daniel. Julien also claims that Lacey had to move “a few times” – also because of Daniel.
In March 2009 Daniel filed a petition for parentage with the court and a court date of May 14th was set. At that time, Lacey confided in Susan Murphy-Milano, an advocate for victims of domestic violence, that Daniel was threatening to take Conor and flee to Mexico. In April 2009 Juan returned from a visit to California and Lacey wrote to confidants that they would marry that summer. At the same time an investigation into Lacey’s filed report against Daniel was taking place and the investigating officer wondered why Lacey’s parents were paying for a phone for her abuser.
On May 14th Lacey appeared in court but the hearing was postponed to September 25th when the court declared Lacey had not been properly served by Daniel. Lacey’s mother and grandmother attended the brief court appearance. They described Lacey as acting “rude”. Lacey would confide in others that she had become frustrated because “no one would take her abuse seriously”.
It is past May 14th that details about Lacey’s life become blurred and confused. Some people have heard that she and Juan had married, but no evidence of that marriage has been produced. Lacey’s communications with her friend, Julien, ceased between June and October of 2009. On September 25th the hearing on Conor’s parentage was schedule, but apparently Daniel did not appear. Lacey’s mother would later state that Daniel began paying child support for Conor, but this has not been confirmed.
On December 1st, 2009 Lacey turned 20 years old. On December 4th she had her last phone conversation with her dear friend Julien. Julien initiated the phone call and they spoke for some time. Lacey told him she was working two jobs: one at an “agency” and another in a bar. She told him Juan was jealous of both jobs for varying reasons. Julien asked her if she and Juan were going to get married and Lacey told him neither of them were interested in doing so at that time. Julien describes the conversation with Lacey as “not the same as before”. He states “…this time she doesn’t seem happy and she had a little voice”.
On Monday, December 7, 2009, Lacey phoned her grandmother and asked if she could babysit Conor. Lacey stated she was not feeling well and had a doctor’s appointment. Lacey’s last communication was at 3:30 p.m. December 7, 2009. Lacey was found, at approximately 7 p.m. that evening, murdered in her apartment. She was reportedly found by Juan. She was discovered with an electrical cord around her neck and a 4-inch gash in her throat. While there have been no official documents released in her autopsy, sources close to the investigation state there were no defensive wounds found on Lacey’s body, and there have even been statements made that her hands were “bagged”.
Lacey’s murder remains unsolved with no suspects in custody or named. Conor, now 2, will live his life not knowing the out-going and loving nature of his own mother.
In coming articles discussing the unsolved murder of Lacey Claire Gaines we will look at what little is known about potential suspects, and about the ebbs and slight flows of the investigation.
Links to Lacey’s Life:
Lacey Claire Gaines Memorial website
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Missing Persons Awareness and Support Network