Family seeks justice for fatal beating victim

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Married with three children, Lauren Aukett had a promising life before it spiraled out of control after two family deaths and her addiction to drugs, her sister Carolynn Aukett-Belgiorno said Tuesday.

Aukett, 33, was found beaten unconscious and beyond recognition outside of South Philadelphia High School on April 5. She died 10 days later at Jefferson University Hospital.

“It’s just a shame that this happened,” Aukett-Belgiorno, 46, a paralegal at the law firm Kline & Specter said. “It’s sad that someone could do this to someone else.”

No one has been arrested in the fatal beating.

Homicide Capt. James Clark said Tuesday that police are seeking the public’s help. “She was beaten pretty badly,” he said.

He said police are not certain if Aukett was beaten outside the high school or elsewhere, then brought to the school. “We don’t know exactly where it happened,” he said.

Aukett-Belgiorno believes her sister, who was recently homeless, was sleeping outside the high school, on Broad Street near Jackson.

“She was a great kid,” her sister said. Aukett, a South Philly girl, attended Catholic schools, including the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur in Villanova, from where she graduated in 2001. She worked at a Staples store for more than 10 years and was a manager at a Rita’s Water Ice, Aukett-Belgiorno said.

She had a daughter, who’s now 14, and two boys, ages 5 and 10, her sister said.

But, Aukett-Belgiorno said, her sister “was dabbling with drugs. In the last few years, she had developed a problem.”

Her sister had started with crack cocaine, then used heroin. Aukett’s husband died of an overdose in March 2014, Aukett-Belgiorno said.

“That’s when everything spiraled out of control,” Aukett-Belgiorno said.

The children went to live with their maternal grandmother, but Aukett stayed in touch with them, her sister said.

Aukett became transient. “The next thing we know, she was living on Broad Street,” her sister said.

Aukett-Belgiorno said she couldn’t have her sister live in her home, with her family, because of her drug use. Plus, her sister never asked. She was independent and also didn’t want to go to a shelter, where there was “nothing but fighting,” Aukett-Belgiorno said, describing what her sister told her.

But while living on the streets in South Philly, her sister got help. “Lauren was from the neighborhood. She knew people,” Aukett-Belgiorno said. People would let her take showers in their homes, and Aukett-Belgiorno said her own daughter would bring Aukett some food.

Family members will remember Aukett at a funeral Mass this Friday at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church, 9th and Watkins Streets in South Philadelphia (visitation starting at 9 a.m.; Mass at 10 a.m.).  The service is open to the public, Aukett-Belgiorno said.

Anyone with information about what happened to Lauren Aukett is asked to contact the homicide unit at 215-686-3334. As with all homicides, there is a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

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