Vancouver family mourn slain Illinois relatives

Brittney Luark, two of her children, her boyfriend and the children's grandmother was slain in Illinois on April 24, 2013. (Undated courtesy photo, KOIN 6 News)
Brittney Luark, two of her children, her boyfriend and the children's grandmother was slain in Illinois on April 24, 2013. (Undated courtesy photo, KOIN 6 News)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Brittney Luark was a busy mom raising three young children, with another on the way, from her home in Manchester, Illinois. But she always had time for her cousin in Vancouver, Washington.

Courtney Forbes spoke every day with her cousin in Illinois, Brittney Luark, who was slain in April. (May 7, 2013, KOIN 6 News)

Courtney Forbes spoke every day with her cousin in Illinois, Brittney Luark, who was slain in April. (May 7, 2013, KOIN 6 News)

Just a year apart, Courtney Forbes and her cousin became good friends, and lived together in Vancouver in the mid-1990s. Even as adults, they spoke everyday.

All that changed at 4 a.m. on April 24.

Illinois police said Rick Smith stormed the Luark’s apartment, shooting and killing Brittney, her boyfriend and their two sons, ages 1 and 5, plus their grandmother, Joanne Sinclair.

Smith, 43, was killed in a shootout with police a few hours later. The motive is unclear, though investigators believe his motive was a custody battle in which he felt they interfered.

The only person to survive the shooting was their 6-year-old daughter, Kassidy. Family members said she was shot in the face.

“She went through several surgeries, didn’t know if she was going to regain full eyesight or not,” said Courtney’s mother, Kim Turner. “But she did.”

Turner and Forbes couldn’t afford to go to Illinois for the funeral, but they’re putting together a special care package for Kassidy.

More than anything, Forbes and Turner said Luark loved being a mom.

“We never got to meet them,” Turner said, “but we had plans that one day we were all going to get together again to be able to meet them.”

Relatives in Vancouver set up an account at US Bank the Luark Memorial Fund — to help the family cover funeral expenses in Illinois.

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