CRYSTAL LAKE – The aunt of the two women who were fatally shot Thursday night in Crystal Lake said the good memories are difficult to find when she thinks about her nieces.
Deborah Lange said the close-knit family rallied around her brother, Patrick Reynolds, after news spread that 31-year-old Allania Yarber and her 15-year-old sister were killed and Ryan C. Yarber was charged with first-degree murder in connection with their deaths.
“To see him, my protector, my hero, to see him drop and cry and scream, I can’t even describe it to you,” said Lange, of Springfield, Oregon. “You try to reach for those memories, but you can’t get past what is right now. … It’s the hurt and the agony, and it’s indescribable.”
Given the closeness of the family, Lange said she knew there were troubles between her niece and Ryan Yarber.
Lange said her 15-year-old niece, the youngest of Reynold’s five children, was staying at the Yarbers’ home while the rest of her family was on vacation. Lange said the family does not want to identify the teenager because she is a minor.
Although Lange said anger over her nieces’ deaths still clouds her memory of them, she described Allania as a kind and loving mother of two young boys.
She added that looking after her nieces years ago while their father played basketball overseas helped prepare her for becoming a parent.
“I would love to tell you what I miss most, but right now I can’t get over the fact that someone murdered her,” Lange said.
Before marrying Ryan Yarber, Allania Reynolds signed to play women’s basketball for San Jose State University in 2004 as a 6-foot-1 forward, according to a news release from the school announcing her signing. She played four seasons at North Salem High School in Salem, Oregon, and averaged 25 points and 16 rebounds as a senior.
Her father played basketball for Eastern Montana College in the 1980s. Julie Zeller, her mother, also played college basketball and volleyball for Oregon State in the same decade.
“We always looked at her and said she was a duplicate of mom – tall, athletic,” Lange said.
A GoFundMe page was created Saturday and had raised $6,760 by Tuesday morning to help pay for burial costs and to help take both victims back to Oregon, Lange said. The page says both daughters were “taken in a vicious and indescribable way.”
“This has rocked our world,” Lange said. “It’s our first experience with death so close, and for it to happen in the way it happened, I can’t even comprehend it. I’m lost for words.”
McHenry County Coroner Anne Majewski has refused to release the name of the 15-year-old because of the girl’s age and a “request by family.”
Majewski denied a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Northwest Herald that asked for any documents stating the name of the 15-year-old, saying that no documents would be released at this time because the investigation into the case is ongoing. Typically, her office releases names of those who have died once family members have been notified.
The Northwest Herald submitted a request Tuesday for a review of the FOIA denial with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.