Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Chicago strangulations continue with six recent murders

Unsolved strangulations of women, many with histories of prostitution and illegal drug use, are continuing in Chicago with the recent killings of at least six women, according to a new report by veteran WBBM-TV reporter Pam Zekman in consultation with the Murder Accountability Project.

More than 50 women have been strangled or asphyxiated since 2001, their bodies recovered in alleyways, abandoned properties or found stuffed in trash containers. MAP's serial-detection algorithm has flashed a warning about these murders for several years.   (See the "Murder Clusters" tab on this website).

Chicago Police usually make arrests when women are murdered. But the strangulation and asphyxiation killings overwhelmingly have gone unsolved, a pattern highly suggestive of serial murder. To see a map showing the victims' names, body-recovery locations and details of these crimes, click here.

"We absolutely believe that the recent killings are part of a continuing pattern," said MAP chairman Thomas Hargrove. "It’s highly unlikely these 50 women were murdered by 50 separate men."

Zekman found the September 2018 death of Reo Renee Holyfield, whose body was found in a garbage container, is in limbo. Holyfield's autopsy report indicated circumstances suggested "the death could have been homicide" by asphyxiation. But the Cook County Medical Examiner ruled that Holyfield's body was too decomposed to make a definite determination, so her cause of death was officially classified as "undetermined." Chicago Police, in turn, classified the case as a "suspended death investigation."

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson vowed to continue investigating the cases, including a review of DNA evidence. "We are looking at them now to see if we can go back and do some additional testing to see if that will help us bring to the forefront who these individuals are," he said.