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Illinois man gets life term for killing wife, kids

Associated Press Modified: November 27, 2012 at 7:01 pm •  Published: November 27, 2012

Though she didn't mention his alleged plans to move to Canada, she made clear that her daughter was strong and would have made a life for herself had he left his family.

She said that the murders — the acts of a "coward" — denied her family moments, big and small. She spoke of sewing with her granddaughters and the emails she exchanged with her grandson that contained big words they liked to throw at each other.

Kimberly Vaughn's father said the images of "four hearses and four caskets" would never leave his head. Like his wife, Del Phillips never mentioned Christopher Vaughn by name, but said he had taken from him the hugs of his grandchildren, the future dog walks and bike rides, the graduations, the weddings.

"I miss the little touches between our lives," he wrote in a statement that was read by a prosecutor. "Emotionally as a result of these executions I have unwittingly withdrawn from playing with my surviving grandchildren."

And he echoed his other daughter's fears about reminding her family so much of her dead sister, saying: "Once a blessing to have two beautiful young daughters is now a gruesome reminder that one is gone."

Kimberly Vaughn's other sister, Nikki Isemann, said in a statement read by a prosecutor that the slayings have turned her into a different person who sees "the evil and hateful part of people" before she sees anything else.

While some people have been understanding, "other friends have decided they can no longer be around someone so pessimistic," she wrote.

After the hearing, Del Phillips said sentencing will give them some sense of closure — though they'd hoped for something from Christopher Vaughn.

"'I'm sorry' would have been a good one," Phillips said.

The family wouldn't say whether they were disappointed that the death penalty was abolished in Illinois after Vaughn's arrest.

But Kimberly Vaughn's father said maybe her husband's confinement to a prison cell for the rest of his life is the worst punishment.

"He is, in effect, in a death penalty right now," he said. "It's just a question of degree."