The only thing wrong with Michele Vivian Peters was that she was perfect. She never went out partying with the girls, drank or abused drugs. Except for playing in an adult summer softball league with the Oak Lawn Park District, Michele stayed home with her two boys, Georgie, 7, and Alexander, 15 months.
“Those boys were everything to her,” Catherine Peters said of her daughter. “She was perfect. We are so lost.”
Peters’ world changed forever the morning she received a phone call from the Chicago Heights police asking her to come to the police station.
“It was 4 a.m. I was sound asleep,” Peters said. “The police said they couldn’t tell me the reason over the phone, just come to the station. I knew it wasn’t good.”
When Peters arrived, police delivered the news that her daughter had been found fatally shot the evening of March 6 in the Chicago Heights home that Michele shared with her boyfriend, the father of her two sons who also lived there.
Neighbors said they heard a gunshot and people arguing. Dogs could also be heard barking inside the house.
Peters said her daughter and boyfriend owned two pit bulls that were kept outside or in the basement.
Chicago Heights police held her daughter’s 32-year-old boyfriend for 48 hours. He was released without being charged. Police confirmed that the death investigation is still open.
Three weeks after her daughter died, her mother remembered the little girl who loved baseball.
“She started playing t-ball when she was five years old,” “Peters said. “She always played for the Oak Lawn Park District. When we had the funeral, we had the procession stop by the ball field at Central and 99th Street.”
Peters said that her daughter had her suitcases packed and was ready to move back to Hometown with her boys, where Michele was born and raised.
“She hated being [in Chicago Heights],” Peters said. “They lived on one of the worst blocks. Even the pizza guys wouldn’t deliver pizza there.”
Peters said she hasn’t seen her grandsons since her daughter died. She was allowed briefly by Michele’s boyfriend to retrieve some of her daughter’s personal effects from the Chicago Heights house, including Michele’s Siamese cat, Kitty-Kitty.
“I grabbed as many pictures as I could find,” Peters said. “It was like Michele was leading me to stuff that was important.”
This Friday, April 6, Michele’s family and friends will be marking the one-month anniversary of her death with a candlelight vigil in Centennial Park.
The vigil is being held on the first baseline in one of the softball fields where Michele played first base for a team of jokesters who called themselves the Defibrillators.
“They called themselves that because they were so bad,” Peters laughed quietly. “Michele was a good player but thought she was much better than she was. She wasn’t conceited, she was convinced.”
So far, more than 90 people have confirmed their attendance on the Michele Peters Memorial Facebook page created by her cousins, Staci Byrne-Sverker and Tiffany Byrne. The women said they’re organizing the vigil to “promote and support justice for Michele and her boys.”
Peters, who joked that her daughter would tease her for crying during a TV commercial about dog food, has remained surprisingly stoic.
“When Michele died she left me her strength,” her mother said. “She was one of the strongest women I ever met. Even as a kid, she never cried. I have to be strong for Michele and the boys.”
This article has been updated.
The candelight vigil for Michele Peters begins at 8 p.m. Friday, April 6, in Centennial Park (Oak Lawn Pavilion) at 9401 Oak Park Ave. in Oak Lawn. A fund has also been set up to help with funeral expenses and future legal costs. Checks made payable to Miracles for Michele c/o Archer Bank, 5400 W. 95th St., Oak Lawn, IL 60453.
Chicago Heights Patch editor Christopher Paicely contributed to this story.