UW-W alumna victim of suspected murder-suicide

Alumna+Kelly+Hedmark+%28right%29+and+her+friend+Leah+Koppelmann+pose+after+their+graduation+from+UW-Whitewater.

Alumna Kelly Hedmark (right) and her friend Leah Koppelmann pose after their graduation from UW-Whitewater.

Ivy Steege, Campus News Editor

On Tuesday, February 15, Kelly Hedmark, 25, was found dead in her boyfriend’s home in Lindenhurst, Illinois. After her alleged murder, Hedmark’s boyfriend Kevin Williams, 25, drove his car into oncoming traffic where both he and the other driver he hit, Ronald Reed, 53, of Durand, died at the scene. It is suspected that Hedmark’s boyfriend is responsible for her death while the investigation is ongoing. 

“Murder-suicide is absolutely being explored. She appeared to have been battered and appeared to be a victim of a homicide,” said Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli. “It seems way too coincidental that he’s suspected of committing this crime and then shortly thereafter is in a high-speed crash where he’s the person who veered into the oncoming lanes.”

Investigators said Hedmark’s family reported her missing after her boyfriend died in the head-on crash at Bates Road and Freeport Road, near Rockton, Illinois in Winnebago County. A search warrant executed at the boyfriend’s home led to the discovery of Hedmark’s body.

Law enforcement’s investigation into the isolated incident is ongoing.

‘A compassionate person’

Kelly Hedmark was born in 1996 in the city of Algonquin, Illinois to parents Keith and Jennifer (Foley) Hedmark. Growing up, she attended Dundee Crown High School located in Carpentersville, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. 

After first receiving a Bachelor’s Degree at Harper College, Hedmark went on to study at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where she obtained a Bachelor’s of Business Administration. During her time at UW-W, Hedmark was an active member of campus. She served as vice president of the Whitewater Circle K International Volunteer Organization for two years and was named to the University Dean’s List in December 2018. 

Kelly Hedmark enjoys a drink during her time with the UW-W Communication Department UK travel course.

Next to reading and baking, Hedmark was known for her love of traveling. In the spring of 2017, she joined a Department of Communication United Kingdom travel study course led by professors Brian Lucas and Dr. Kate Ksobiech. The class traveled to Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland over three weeks. There she was able to meet a long-term friend Hannah Jewell. 

Jewell and Hedmark were roommates and class partners during the trip, where they were able to explore parts of Europe together and make memories. Jewell cherishes the special time they spent together.

There are so many fun and silly memories that I have of Kelly, but probably one of my favorites was when we were traveling abroad. We were in London staying in a hostel with six girls in one tiny room,” Jewell said. “Kelly and I started an acapella rendition of Macklemore’s ‘Thrift Shop.’ Everyone had a role, but I think Kelly’s part was my favorite. She was the part at the beginning, singing ‘ba ba do, ba ba do, wow!’ Well, we couldn’t even get to the first set of lyrics because how Kelly was singing was hysterical! We have a video of us all singing, and every time I watch it I get into such a fit of laughter.” 

Ksobiech remembers Hedmark being able to create a tight-knit group of friends during the experience, which she lovingly called The Inner Circle. Ksobiech said her best memories from the trip all include that group of young women. The special friendship continued when the students and professors returned to the States. 

“After we returned, I had The Inner Circle over to my house for dinner regularly. I usually had a theme for the night, and it’d include crafts, games or a movie we’d watch together. But above all else, there was so much laughter. It was an absolute joy to stay in close contact for as long as we could manage it,” said Ksobiech. “Students have a way of graduating and moving, and these women ventured out beyond UW-W to start their careers. We all continued to stay in touch, usually through social media or text. Our collective dream was to travel together again. I grieve that we weren’t able to do that before Kelly died. I pray someday the rest of The Inner Circle can take her along with us in spirit on another adventure.”

Members of their friend group lovingly called The Inner Circle relax together during one of their routine hangouts.

Hedmark’s family and friends held a memorial visitation and Funeral Mass Friday, Feb. 25, 2022 at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Algonquin, Illinois. They ask that in place of flowers, people donate to Animal House Shelter in Huntley, Illinois. 

“Kelly was a very compassionate person that loved helping others and animals. She was a very active volunteer, and enjoyed donating her time and energy to the community. She participated in many clubs and volunteer organizations at UW-W, as well as at home,” said Jewell. “Her dog Hallie and her brother Erik were her best friends. She loved them both so dearly.” 

The people closest to Hedmark are reminiscing about her memory, which will not be forgotten by those whose lives she touched around the world and at her UW-Whitewater alma mater. 

“I’ve talked with other students since her passing, and the words that come up are: Kind. Sweet. Caring. Gentle,” said Ksobiech. “Her death is both tragic and senseless. None of us who knew her can imagine there was any circumstance under which Kelly would have said or done anything to provoke her murderer. Kelly was nothing but a fun young woman, who was a joy to be around.”