Crest Hill victim remembered for kind words
By Tony Graf and Brian Stanley email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org November 23, 2012 6:36PM
Updated: December 26, 2012 6:32AM
CREST HILL — Michelle Zbacnik would see Dorothy Dumyahn looking out her window and giving a friendly wave.
Zbacnik did not know Dumyahn closely, but the two women shared an interest in gardening. Zbacnik would pick flowers for Dumyahn, 89, and say to her, “I just want to brighten your day.”
“Thank you, sweetheart. You’re sunshine,” Dumyahn responded.
Zbacnik says it is tragic that this kind woman who lived in her neighborhood was found dead Nov. 18 after her home was set on fire.
Bruce Gempel, 48, a neighbor of Dumyahn, remained in the Will County Jail on charges of murder and arson. On Saturday morning, he appeared via video in court, where
bond was set at $1 million. He is scheduled to appear in court again Tuesday.
Zbacnik recalls sharing daffodils and irises with Dumyahn.
“She was a sweet, sweet woman,” Zbacnik said Friday. “We talked about gardening a handful of times.”
Craig Gottwald also has positive memories of Dumyahn.
“She was a good neighbor, generous lady,” said Gottwald, who has lived in this neighborhood for 35 years, near the intersection of Caton Farm Road and Greengold Street.
While investigators searched through the smoking debris Monday afternoon, Gempel answered the door and, after asking another man inside, emphatically told a Herald-News reporter no one in the house “had anything to say” about the deceased neighbor.
Gempel was arrested about 10:30 a.m. Thursday on a charge of first-degree murder stemming from the death of Dumyahn, Police Chief Dwayne Wilkerson said.
An off-duty firefighter spotted the blaze Sunday morning as he was driving in the 2300 block of Caton Farm Road.
The front of the home was in flames, and Dumyahn later was discovered dead inside.
Visitation for Dumyahn will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Monday at Woodlawn Funeral Home, 3201 W. Jefferson St., Joliet, followed by a funeral at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 404 N. Hickory St., Joliet.