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'We Ask Ourselves: Was God There?' 6 Slain Gage Park Family Members Mourned

By Kelly Bauer | February 14, 2016 7:49pm | Updated on February 15, 2016 8:15am

Hundreds attended a wake and funeral for the Cruz-Martinez family. [DNAinfo/Kelly Bauer]

GAGE PARK — Six caskets filled the front of a Southwest Side church Sunday night as hundreds of people came out in below-freezing temperatures to honor a family slain in a mass killing in Gage Park.

The six members of the Cruz-Martinez family were killed in their home and found by police on Feb. 4. The killer or killers slashed five members of the family to death with what's been described by police as "bladed weapons." The sixth family member was shot.

Police have not offered a motive. While the investigation into their deaths continues, loved ones and well-wishers gathered at St. Gall Church, 5511 S. Sawyer Ave., for the family's wake and funeral Sunday.

The family's flower-laden caskets were brought to the front of the church, which was decorated with photos of Noe Martinez Sr., 62; Rosaura Martinez, 58; Noe Martinez Jr., 38; Maria Herminia Martinez, 32; Alexis Cruz, 10; and Leonardo Cruz, 13.

Alexis and Leonardo Cruz were Herminia's Martinez's sons, a relative said, while Noe Sr. and Rosaura Martinez were Herminia Martinez and Noe Jr.'s parents.

The caskets of Leonardo, 13, and Alexis Cruz, 10, bore soccer jerseys that said "Leo Cruz" and "Alexis." Children in similar jerseys attended the funeral and paid their respects to the boys. [DNAinfo/Kelly Bauer]

"We grieve their loss," said the Rev. Gary Graf, who addressed the crowd in English and Spanish. "But we come together at the same time with tremendous faith and hope."

Hundreds of visitors formed a line that wrapped around pews and walls to view the caskets. Family and friends embraced and wept. A woman clung to Graf, burying her face in his white robes while he quietly held her.

Children in colorful soccer jerseys passed by the caskets of Alexis and Leonardo Cruz, which were draped in jerseys. Alexis, who had just turned 10 when he was killed, loved soccer, a relative said.

Leo was "outgoing," and the family was "quiet," caring and sincere,  said Azucena Martinez, a relative.

The boys would play outside, waving at people they knew, and the family wold hold parties in their yard, Graf said. They would bring a cold beer to a church deacon whenever they had a party, Graf said.

"He would always remember that, how they were just this wonderful family ... who remembered him, took care of him," Graf told DNAinfo Chicago. "They really made him feel part of their family."

"We ask ourselves: If I would have been there ... this tragedy would have never happened," Graf said during the family's funeral. "We ask ourselves: Was God there?"

Later, the flowers and soccer jerseys were taken away. The six caskets were taken from the church and lifted into hearses while attendees gathered around. Some reached to touch the caskets.

When police found the bodies of the family, all of the doors of their bungalow were locked, and there were no signs of forced entry, the city's chief of detectives said Feb. 5.

Interim Police Supt. John Escalante said at the Feb. 5 media briefing that "There's nothing at this point that leads us to believe this was a random act."

The slayings represent the city's most deadly, violent incident since 2003.

Visitors line up to pay their respects to the Cruz-Martinez family. [DNAinfo/Kelly Bauer]

Family and friends of the Cruz-Martinez family embrace and weep during the wake. [DNAinfo/Kelly Bauer]

Hundreds of people gather at the wake and funeral for the Cruz-Martinez family. [DNAinfo/Kelly Bauer]

A priest swings a thurible over the caskets of the Cruz-Martinez family during a funeral for the slain family. [DNAinfo/Kelly Bauer]

The Cruz-Martinez family was found slain in their Gage Park home. They were remembered at a Sunday funeral. [DNAinfo/Kelly Bauer]

Mourners gathered around the caskets of the Cruz-Martinez family. [DNAinfo/Kelly Bauer]

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