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Memories Of Friend Killed In Domestic Incident Drive Charity Board Member

By Howard Ludwig | October 17, 2017 6:05am
 Cynthia Bischof, 43, was killed by her ex-boyfiend on March 7, 2008. The incident continues to haunt Jan Rauen, who sits on the board of directors for A New Direction. The group provides counseling services and legal assistance to victims of domestic abuse.
Cynthia Bischof, 43, was killed by her ex-boyfiend on March 7, 2008. The incident continues to haunt Jan Rauen, who sits on the board of directors for A New Direction. The group provides counseling services and legal assistance to victims of domestic abuse.
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BEVERLY — Jan Rauen still vividly remembers the phone call she received informing her that her friend Cynthia Bischof had been killed by her ex-boyfriend.

Rauen, a Beverly resident, had become close with Bischof through mutual friends. Two months before Bischof was killed on March 7, 2008, they were all together on a girls trip in Florida.

"We had fun, but it was still very stressful," Rauen said, recalling the frightening stories Bischof shared about Michael Giroux.

The former furniture salesman stalked Bischof before showing up at her office in suburban Elmhurst and shooting her with a .38 caliber revolver. Giroux, 60, then turned the gun on himself.

It's this story and others that drove Rauen to become involved with A New Direction, which offers counseling and legal services for families impacted by domestic violence. About 90 percent of the clients are from the Beverly area, Rauen said Monday.

"It really is a way to give back to the community," Rauen said. "As a board member, we do get some briefings from the staff about what is going on, and there is never a dry eye in those meetings."

A New Direction will hold its annual benefit and reception from 7-10 p.m. Saturday at Ridge Country Club. About 300 people are expected to attend the charity's main fundraiser for the year, Rauen said.

It costs $75 to attend the fundraiser at 10522 S. California Ave. in Beverly. Rauen has been busy posting some 90 items that will be auctioned off that evening online, allowing even those unable to attend the event to bid on the items from home.

As for Bischof, Rauen said her tragic death led to major changes as states began enacting "Cindy's Law." The law was born from Bischof's requests to a judge asking that Giroux wear a GPS monitoring device.

Bischof, 43, had already acquired a protective order that prohibited her ex-boyfriend from contacting her. He violated the order twice, including an attempt to hang himself on the patio of Bischof's home in suburban Arlington Heights.

Bischof pressed charges and put Giroux in jail for two months followed by home confinement, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Rauen, an attorney, said the judge told her friend he couldn't accommodate her request for a GPS device. But two years after the murder of the promising 43-year-old commercial real estate broker legislation was passed requiring such devices be worn on the ankle of anyone who violates an order of protection in Illinois.

Similar laws requiring GPS monitoring for domestic abusers have since been passed in 22 more states, and 11 others are in the process of setting such mandates. Rauen still misses her friend but remains proud of her legacy.

Bischof "was really great. Beautiful. She was incredibly kind and giving," said Rauen, who was born and raised in Beverly along with her eight siblings.

Jan Rauen of Beverly joined the board of directors of A New Direction in 2014. The charity provides counseling and legal services for families impacted by domestic violence. [Supplied Photo]

She moved back into the neighborhood in 2002 and lives with her husband, John Harrell, and their son. She joined A New Direction's board in 2014 — three years after the charity debuted.

Jessica McCarihan of Beverly started the group with the help of Rita Ryan, who previously worked with victims of domestic violence for nearly three decades in Beverly before her advocacy center shut down in 2008.

The rekindled group relies on funding from its annual gala along with a fundraiser called Work Out to Wipe Out Domestic Violence. For more information about A New Direction, visit the group's website or call 773-253-7226.