WBEZ | Chicago homicide http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-homicide Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Murdered Chicago teen died with bus ticket out of town http://www.wbez.org/news/murdered-chicago-teen-died-bus-ticket-out-town-108845 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Rodney%20%287%20of%2016%29.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Rodney Stewart’s grandma, Sheila Green, looks down at Stewart’s grave at Mount Hope Cemetery. Stewart was 17 when he was murdered last year. (Photo courtesy of Sophia Nahli Allison)" /></div><p>Last fall 17-year old Rodney Stewart knew he was in danger and that he needed to get out of Chicago.&nbsp; Stewart had a plan. He was going to move to Iowa, where he could live with two friends and where he had a lead on a job.&nbsp; He bought a ticket for a bus leaving Chicago on November 10, 2012.&nbsp; But in the early morning hours of November 8th, just two days before that bus would have left, Stewart was found face down in an alley in the 2600 block of West 83rd Street, shot in the back of the head. He died later that day.</p><p>Rodney Stewart&rsquo;s family and longtime friends say they never expected his life to end this way. They remember him as an easy-going, silly but responsible young man. Stewart was a good kid, who stayed out of trouble, says Sheila Green, his grandmother; he wasn&rsquo;t in jail like other relatives, she adds. Green says her grandson-- who came to live with her when he was 10-- actually liked to clean and go to bed early, and he had no problem taking care of his younger relatives or chipping in for groceries when needed.</p><p>But Green remembers a conversation she had with her grandson about a year before he was killed. Stewart warned her that he was in trouble. She didn&rsquo;t believe him. &ldquo;He told me he has &lsquo;enemies&rsquo; and that I wouldn&rsquo;t understand,&rdquo; Green recounts. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t take him serious because we&rsquo;re talking about Trell, who is silly, lanky, just silly. He was what the kids would call a nerd. I&rsquo;m like, &lsquo;Boy, who want you? Nobody thinking about you.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Downward Spiral</strong><br /><br />Stewart tried several times to get away from the dangers he feared would catch up with him.</p><p>In May of 2012, he decided to move out of Green&rsquo;s house to live with his mother. Green says the 16-year-old was seeking more freedom, and she didn&rsquo;t approve of the move. When Stewart&rsquo;s relationship with his mother grew strained, he moved in with his girlfriend, LaDorothy Morrison, and her family.&nbsp; When that family moved from their South Side Woodlawn neighborhood to the West Side in August of 2012, Stewart moved with them.</p><p>In late October 2012, Green says Stewart&rsquo;s school, Bronzeville Scholastic Institute, contacted her because he had missed 42 days of school, almost the entire semester. Green says the school told her that his mother could not be reached.<br /><br />Green talked to her grandson. She says Stewart told her he couldn&rsquo;t go back to school and said he wanted to take classes online instead, something she reluctantly agreed to.</p><p>Despite the increasing instability, school absences and repeated moves, Stewart&rsquo;s girlfriend LaDorothy Morrison insists Stewart was trying to hang on and make something work.<br />&nbsp;<br />&ldquo;We used to always talk about our future, and he would always tell me there&rsquo;s nothing in Chicago,&rdquo; says Morrison. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re going to end up dead, or in jail, and he was so looking forward to moving.&rdquo;<br /><br />But when it comes to talking about who may have killed her boyfriend, Morrison shuts down, saying she doesn&rsquo;t feel &ldquo;comfortable.&rdquo;</p><p>That resistance piques the suspicion of Stewart&rsquo;s aunt Andrea Johnson. Johnson says she was close to her nephew.&nbsp; She blinks back tears at the mention of his name. She says Morrison is &ldquo;not cooperating&rdquo; with detectives and is therefore partly to blame for the fact that the case still hasn&rsquo;t been solved.<br /><br />&ldquo;The decision to bring charges in any case, murder or otherwise, is made by the State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s Office,&rdquo; says Adam Collins, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department.</p><p>&ldquo;The key pieces of evidence typically required by prosecutors include credible witnesses who is [sic] willing to come forward or DNA, which you don&rsquo;t have with murder by gunfire,&rdquo; says Collins.</p><p>Stewart&rsquo;s grandmother Sheila Green says the identity of the shooter is not a secret, but that the family is&nbsp; still waiting for witnesses who will testify in court. &ldquo;We know, and the detectives know who did it,&rdquo; says Green, &ldquo;But there isn&rsquo;t enough evidence because no witness will step up.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Andrea Watson is a Columbia College graduate student. She reported and wrote this story as part of the &quot;<a href="http://www.chicagotalks.org/?s=forgotten+dead&amp;x=0&amp;y=0" target="_blank">Forgotten Dead&quot;</a> series, a Columbia College student project that looked into unsolved murders in Chicago last year.</em></p></p> Thu, 03 Oct 2013 15:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/murdered-chicago-teen-died-bus-ticket-out-town-108845 The Jeremiah Sterling Story: Epilogue http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-03/jeremiah-sterling-story-epilogue-106063 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/35215_139789432706057_6385589_n.jpg" style="float: right; height: 355px; width: 300px;" title="Jeremiah Sterling (Facebook)" />Last Friday, after the jury deliberating the fate of her son&rsquo;s killer came back in less than an hour with guilty verdicts for first-degree murder and a slew of other charges, LaWanda Thompson-Sterling said she and her daughter drove home in silence and just sat in the car for what seemed like forever.</div><p>&quot;All I could think about was, now what?&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Now what do you do?&rdquo;</p><p>A few days after the trial, having a sandwich on 47th Street with a friend, Thompson-Sterling still looked tired.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s just that nothing is different,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Except I don&rsquo;t have the burden of going to 26th and California to the trial. I prepared myself for a not guilty verdict. I was very nervous when the jury came back and I said, &lsquo;Lord, help me to deal with it if it&rsquo;s not guilty&rsquo;.&rdquo;<br /><br />But even though she&rsquo;d been longing to hear the guilty verdict, the words seemed to go right through her. She slept away a good portion of Saturday, and again on Sunday.<br /><br />&quot;I&rsquo;ve been reliving the tragedy,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;In different ways. I looked up 40 caliber bullets on in the Internet, trying to figure how big they are, how they might have felt going into Jeremiah&rsquo;s body.&rdquo;<br /><br />It took about two and a half years for Jeremiah Sterling&rsquo;s killer to come to trial. The accused, Romairal Allen, had shuffled in and out of court more than a dozen times for preliminary hearings and the trial itself, his head tilting up, looking out at the courtroom to the circle of women who accompanied his mother to every appearance.<br /><br />&ldquo;[His] mother just looked lost,&rdquo; Thompson-Sterling said. &ldquo;And Friday night, I began to think about Romairal in that cell, because now he&rsquo;s going to go to the big man&rsquo;s prison. And how do you deal with that &ndash; with no hope of a future? Even if you&rsquo;re redeemed in prison, you&rsquo;re still in prison.&rdquo;<br /><br />One day during the week-long trial, Thompson-Sterling found herself even closer to Allen and his family. She&rsquo;d just gone through security and she turned to get her purse. Allen&rsquo;s godmother, who was going through security just then as well, reached over and hugged Thompson-Sterling.<br /><br />&ldquo;Every time I see you, I try to smile to show you we don&rsquo;t have anything against you,&rdquo; the woman whispered. &ldquo;We wanted to say something to you but we just didn&rsquo;t know what to say.&rdquo;<br /><br />Thompson-Sterling hugged her back. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not angry at you,&rdquo; she told her. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t blame you for what Romairal did. We&rsquo;re two hurting, broken families. The difference is you get to see your young man through glass or bars and I have to go to the cemetery to see mine.&rdquo;<br /><br />For now, she&rsquo;s preparing to start a new job and will continue working with <a href="http://www.purposeoverpain.org">Purpose Over Pain</a>, a support group for families affected by violence.</p><p>&quot;It&rsquo;s never over,&rdquo; Thompson-Sterling said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s different but it never goes away. I try my hardest not to be angry. But I can&rsquo;t be angry because then Romairal took my life too.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Earlier stories in this series:</em></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/witness-killing-west-pullman">Witness: A Killing in West Pullman</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/aobejas/2010/09/the-jeremiah-sterling-story-part-1/37708">The Jeremiah Sterling Story: Part 1</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/aobejas/2010/10/the-jeremiah-sterling-story-part-2-hes-been-fightin-since-he-got-here/37961">The Jeremiah Sterling Story: Part 2 -- &#39;He&#39;s been fightin&#39; since he got here&#39;</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/aobejas/2010/10/the-jeremiah-sterling-story-part-3/38834">The Jeremiah Sterling Story: Part 3</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/aobejas/2010/10/the-jeremiah-sterling-story-part-4/39392">The Jeremiah Sterling Story: Part 4</a></p><p>Th<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas-citylife/jeremiah-sterling-story-part-5">e Jeremiah Sterling Story: Part 5</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/jeremiah-sterling-story-part-6-birthday">The Jeremiah Sterling Story: Part 6 -- Birthday</a></p></p> Wed, 13 Mar 2013 00:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-03/jeremiah-sterling-story-epilogue-106063 A Chicago teen's murder goes largely untold http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teens-murder-goes-largely-untold-105510 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F79222881" width="100%"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chicago%20flag%20half%20mast_0.jpg" style="float: right; height: 192px; width: 300px;" title="File: American and Chicago flags at half mast. (Flickr/Andy Phelan)" />There may be more similarities that unite Antonio Fenner and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cops-honor-student-killed-chicago-gang-members-105472">Hadiya Pendleton</a> than differences that divide them.</div><p>Both were teens, Antonio 16, Hadiya 15; both were black; both were Chicago Public Schools students.</p><p>And there&#39;s this one fact that will connect them always: both were killed in the final week of a historically bloody January in Chicago.</p><p>Perhaps the biggest difference between them is what&rsquo;s happened since their murders.</p><p>Hadiya was killed Jan. 29 in the 4500 block of South Oakenwald Avenue in Kenwood. Within days there was a $40,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of her killer.</p><p>Police set up a hotline for people to call with tips, and Supt. Garry McCarthy pledged a speedy investigation, which led to the arrest of two men on Feb. 11.</p><p>President Barack Obama, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn have all weighed in on Hadiya&rsquo;s death. The mayor and governor attended Hadiya&rsquo;s funeral. Her parents were guests of Mrs. Obama at the State of the Union address when the president spoke of Hadiya&rsquo;s murder.</p><p>Antonio was shot to death Jan. 26 in the 4200 block of West Congress Parkway in Garfield Park. So far, police have made no arrests.</p><p>Antonio&rsquo;s family said they have not heard from officers since their son was killed, and no one from the police department or mayor&rsquo;s office has made a public statement on his death. There is no reward being offered for help finding his killer.</p><p>Antonio lived in an apartment building about a mile south from where he died, with his mother, stepfather and four younger siblings, ages 9, 7, 5 and 4.</p><p>His stepdad Clarence Steen said Antonio often looked after his brothers and sisters, and enjoyed sports and hanging out with friends. Antonio was popular in the area, friendly with everyone.</p><p>&ldquo;He was 16, trying to do good in the neighborhood,&rdquo; Steen said. &ldquo;He was going to school, hanging out with the fellas every day, typical kid.&rdquo;</p><p>Antonio was a freshman at <a href="http://www.manleyhighschool.org/">Manley Career Academy</a>.</p><p>Christopher Boyd, 15 and one of Antonio&rsquo;s closest friends, said most days he and Antonio would join a group of friends at a park just two blocks from Antonio&rsquo;s house to play basketball or football.</p><p>&ldquo;He knew everybody, he was cool with everybody, so everybody is going to be down about this,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Antonio was shot in the neck in front of an empty lot at the corner of South Kildare Avenue and West Congress Parkway.</p><p>He was found unresponsive on the sidewalk and pronounced dead at 6:45 in the evening.</p><p>The next day, friends, Manley students and family members decorated the perimeter of the lot with a handmade memorial that still stands, although the balloons, Bible passages and messages scrawled on poster board have been battered by winter weather.</p><p>Antonio&rsquo;s funeral at Miracle Temple Church, 4645 W. Madison Ave., was standing-room only and included a bus full of teachers who came from Manley.</p><p>&ldquo;He has four little brothers and sisters that he can&rsquo;t take care of,&rdquo; Steen said through tears. &ldquo;But we gotta move on, we gotta move on.&rdquo;</p><p>Steen said he has no idea why his stepson was killed, that &ldquo;he was just walking past the corner&rdquo; when someone opened fire. Police, too, have no idea of the motive, nor any leads on who may have done the shooting that also left 32-year-old Dimitri Buford dead, said Officer Robert Perez of the police news affairs department. Steen said Antonio did not know Buford.</p><p>Steen is not optimistic they will catch his stepson&rsquo;s killer and questioned if the police would even make an effort. Of his neighborhood, Steen said police think &ldquo;whatever they&rsquo;re doing, they&rsquo;re going to kill each other and our job is just to come by and clean up.&rdquo;</p><p>Police Officer Joshua Purkiss, also of news affairs, said he has no reason to believe the shooting was gang or drug related. As for Steen&rsquo;s claim that no one from the department had spoken with the family, Purkiss said because detectives do not note every action they take in an investigation, he has no way of knowing if anyone had spoken with the family.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not authorized to make assessments regarding if it was appropriate or necessary for them to speak with the family. Even though they are the grieving family it might not be pertinent to the investigation,&rdquo; Purkiss said. &ldquo;There are hundreds of murder investigations going on in Chicago every day &hellip; there is no way for me to ascertain if they have been out there.&rdquo;</p><p>West Garfield Park and Antonio&rsquo;s stretch of the neighborhood along its border with Lawndale is not an easy place to grow up.</p><p>Households in <a href="http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_11_5YR_DP03&amp;prodType=table">Antonio&rsquo;s census tract has a median income of $22,833</a>, less than half of the average for Chicago as a whole, according to 2011 American Community Survey estimates. And about one-third of the households have an annual income under $10,000.</p><p>&ldquo;This is highway central for drugs, for prostitutes,&rdquo; Steen said. &ldquo;They come down here, do what they do, and then they throw their condoms and needles out the window. And me and the landlord are out here cleaning up because I got four more babies I need to take care of.&rdquo;</p><p>As Steen talked, a car stopped and idled in the middle of the intersection in front of his apartment building, and a young woman stepped out of the passenger door and walked slowly toward Steen and Christopher.</p><p>&ldquo;Hey, do you guys know the time?&rdquo; she called out from a few feet away. When given it she paused for a moment, then trudged back to the car.</p><p>&ldquo;She didn&rsquo;t want to know the ... time; she wanted to know if we were [selling drugs],&quot; Steen says after the young woman leaves.&nbsp; &quot;See, that&rsquo;s the problem with this neighborhood right there.&rdquo;</p><p>Patrick Smith is a graduate journalism student at Columbia College in Chicago.</p><p>He&rsquo;s part of a collaboration between WBEZ and a Columbia College project tracking homicides under the direction of Columbia faculty members Suzanne McBride and Dan Weissmann. Their project is funded with a grant from the Chicago Community Trust.</p></p> Wed, 13 Feb 2013 17:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teens-murder-goes-largely-untold-105510