Neighbor: Slain Bernadette Glomski, 58, did yard work outside Logan Square home

By Emily Gray Brosious | Originally published at Homicide Watch Chicago | May 4, 2015

A 58-year-old woman found strangled in her Logan Square home appeared happy and upbeat just days earlier, according to a neighbor.

A friend found 58-year-old Bernadette Glomski dead in her home in the 2500 block of West Moffat Street on April 15, authorities said. An autopsy later concluded she died of asphyxia by strangulation and her death was ruled a homicide, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

“It’s heartbreaking. You don’t want to hear that happen to anyone … especially like 50 feet from your own bed,” said upstairs neighbor Keithon Gipson. “Whatever the situation, nobody deserves that.”

Authorities have released few details about the killing, and only released the woman’s name in hopes of locating a family member.

Despite the slaying, Gipson says he he still feels safe in the neighborhood.

Gipson, 38, has lived in the apartment directly above Glomski’s for about three years. He said Glomski lived there “for sometime” before he moved in.

Gipson said Glomski, and the man she lived with, were often outside doing yard work and odd jobs for the landlord.

She was an interesting person. Not exactly the friendliest, I mean, she didn’t do anything wrong to anyone, just sometimes you’d try to avoid her. She was that type of character,” Gipson said.

Glomski appeared in good spirits, and days before her death Gipson said she was hanging out with friends and playing music in the backyard.

She looked happy. The color in her face looked real good,” he said. “And to have her life end that way is unacceptable and terrible.”

Gipson said he spoke briefly with police the night Glomski was found dead, but says detectives have not contacted anyone in the building since then.

I’m not a policeman, but it seems like they have somebody that they’re thinking about. Because they didn’t come back and rehashed anything with us,” he said.

Nobody has been charged for the killing. Area North detectives are investigating.

Family: Slain football coach Alexander Villafane kept kids off the street

By Emily Gray Brosious | Originally published at Homicide Watch Chicago | Feb. 17, 2015

Alexander Villafane named his youth football program after his second-favorite NFL team, the New England Patriots, family said.

The 39-year-old football coach did not get to see the Patriots win Super Bowl XLIXthis month because he was fatally shot in the head while working on a vehicle less than a week before the game, family said.

Villafane was replacing a stolen catalytic converter when he was wounded during a Jan. 25 drive-by shooting in the 3500 block of West 24th Street, family said.

Villafane, of the 2300 block of South St. Louis Avenue, died two days later at Mount Sinai Hospital, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

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“I’m at a complete loss … I would never imagine, in a million years, out of all the things that could happen, something like this.” said Villafane’s stepdaughter, Jennessa Martinez.

She said her stepfather dedicated his life to keeping children on the football field and off the streets.

Villafane started the Humboldt Park football team with his brother about 10 years ago as a way to help at-risk youths, family said. He coached more than 300 children, many of whom went on to play high school or college football, Martinez said.

“It’s hard to see that the very thing he was fighting against was the thing that took his life,” she said.

Relatives described the father of four as a “family man” who was a “role model” to many.

“He just taught me so much as I grew up in life,” said Villafane’s godson Angel Del Valle. “He didn’t give up on me. He worked with me, he worked with many of the other kids that were on the bench to better themselves so they can become better people.”

The family believes Villafane’s shooting might have been a case mistaken identity.

Witnesses only told relatives that a gunman inside a passing minivan shot Villafane, the family said during a press conference calling for more police cameras in the area.

Nobody has been charged for the murder.

Family members are asking anyone with information about Alexander Villafane’s murder contact Area Central detectives.

Family: Slain Rayvon Little enjoyed basketball, reading

By Emily Gray Brosious | Originally published at Homicide Watch Chicago | Feb. 5, 2015

Rayvon Little left his Minnesota home as a teenager to come live with his grandmother in Englewood, family said.

Christine Little said her grandson was a quiet young man who often spent his time at home reading or watching Christian television with her.

Christine Little said she was close to her grandson, and when she recently encouraged him to go visit his family in Minnesota he requested she accompany him.

Rayvon Little, 20, never got the chance to return to Minnesota because he was fatally shot Nov. 1, 2014, in the 6700 block of South Morgan Street.

Authorities said Little was outside when somebody in a passing group opened fire. Little was shot multiple times and died about an hour later at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County. Another man, 19, was shot in the leg but survived.

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Rayvon Little, who attended a local alternative high school, enjoyed riding his bicycle through the neighborhood and playing basketball and football at local parks, his grandmother said.

At home, Rayvon Little would “read for hours” and wanted to become a teacher, his grandmother said.

Family friend Kendall Richardson said Rayvon Little wanted to earn his GEDbecause “he saw what was going on around in the streets.”

He wanted to better himself, but I guess it was too little too late,” said Richardson, who added “it can happen to anybody [in this neighborhood]”.

Christine Little said her grandson was out when the gunfire erupted, but she never thought it was him who was shot.

Immediately after the shooting, Christine Little said she went to the front windows, but she was unable to get a good look because the windows were being replaced and were covered with plastic.

I didn’t think it was my baby,” Christine Little said. “I went to the window and peeped underneath [the plastic] and saw a guy running.”

Christine Little said nobody knocked on her door to tell her it was her grandson who was killed until after police left.

I was shocked that this happened, especially with him,” Davis said. “He was so quiet and low key. I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to do something that terrible to him.”

Nobody has been charged for the murder. Area South detectives are investigating.

Mother: ‘I have no witnesses for justice for my son’

By Emily Gray Brosious | Originally published at Homicide Watch Chicago | Jan. 14, 2015 

Darrell Tolbert was a “momma’s boy” who, earlier this year, elaborately decorated an entire wall of his mother’s home with carefully composed photos and artfully arranged notes for her birthday.

His mother never got the chance to return the favor because Tolbert was fatally shot Nov. 4 in the 600 block of North Avers Avenue in the West Garfield Park neighborhood, authorities said. He would have turned 37 about a month later, and his mother had already started the birthday preparations.

“I was preparing in my dining room for [a] celebration with his family,” his mother, Larain Tolbert, said. “This is the first birthday in 37 years that he won’t be here. I just want to celebrate with my family and let my son know that he’s with me in spirit always.”

Growing up, Darrell Tolbert enjoyed watching cartoons and playing sports, especially football. Other hobbies included music, and he enjoyed singing and rapping for fun.

Darrell Tolbert, a father of two, was a family man who always remained close to his mother and spent a lot of time at her home.

“He was really close with me. We were like twins,” his mother said. “He was just an awesome son — a momma’s boy.

“He did everything for me. Never a question like ‘why?’ or ‘what?’ Anything I asked him to do, he did it right away.”

When Darrell Tolbert wasn’t spending time with his mother, he could often be found visiting his grandmother and sister on the West Side.

Larain Tolbert said her son was killed near his sister’s home after a confrontation with a neighborhood drug dealer.

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The story I get, is that [a] young guy took it upon himself to avenge the little disagreement,” she said. “He shot my son in cold blood.”

Larain Tolbert said her family believes they are who killed her son, and she told police, but no witnesses have yet come forward.

I have no witnesses for justice for my son,” she said. “Everybody knows what happened, but no one is talking.”

Larain Tolbert said the hardest part is knowing that her 2-year-old grandson will grow up without a father.

I don’t think he understands, because he still looks for him,” she said. “When he comes in the house, he runs back there to where his dad used to sleep. And I just explain to him, he in heaven.”

Larain Tolbert said her own mother has cancer, but it is too risky for her visit her West Side home since her son’s murder.

It’s hard for me because I hear so much … I hear that they’re walking around saying they have bond money and they’re armed and dangerous,” she said. “I have to get in the car, pick my mom up and get away from there because I just don’t want to go around.”

Despite the difficulties, Larain Tolbert says she is staying strong for her family, whom she hopes can find forgiveness and peace because that is what her son would have wanted.

I’m hurt by this, but I’m strong. I’ve been in church a long time,” Larain Tolbert said. “I’ve accepted that my son is not coming back and I put my life in God’s hands that I will see him some day.”

Family: Slain teen Michael Bloodson enjoyed arts, technology

By Emily Gray Brosious | Originally published at Homicide Watch Chicago | Nov. 20, 2014

Little Black Pearl Art & Design Academy student Michael Faheem Bloodson recently developed a passion for glassblowing.

Bloodson, 17, was shot in head in the 3900 block of South Prairie Avenue in the Bronzeville neighborhood about 3 p.m. Sept. 13, authorities said. He died at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County less than an hour later.

Continue reading “Family: Slain teen Michael Bloodson enjoyed arts, technology”

Homicide Watch Chicago | Jeremiah Shaw

Video by Emily Gray Brosious, Peter Holderness and Alex Wroblewski | Story by Emily Brosious and Kaley Fowler | Originally published at Homicide Watch Chicago; Chicago Sun-Times | Sep 2, 2014

Jeremiah Shaw was a loner who avoided gangs, family and friends said.

That is why they were shocked when he was fatally shot Aug. 6 while smoking a cigarette outside his aunt’s home in the 5400 block of South Laflin Street in the Back of the Yards community, authorities and family said.

Continue reading “Homicide Watch Chicago | Jeremiah Shaw”

Mother: Slain father Kashif Tillis ‘had dreams of owning his own trucking company’

Homicide Watch Chicago

As a child, Kashif Tillis‘ love of western movies earned him the nickname “Chiefy,” his mother said. Tillis, 29, was fatally shot as he sat in his mother’s car in the 7200 block of South Morgan Street about 4 p.m. Aug. 5, authorities and family said. — Continue reading this story at Homicide Watch Chicago. 

Mentor: ‘It’s like he was born on a different path but got swallowed up in the streets’

Video by Jessica Koscielniak and Emily Gray Brosious
Story by Kaley Fowler and Emily Gray Brosious
Originally published at Homicide Watch Chicago
July 15, 2014

Cassius White moved to Chicago from New Orleans in 2006 after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina, friends said.

White and a 16-year-old boy were wounded in a drive-by shooting July 7 in the 9600 block of South Sangamon Avenue, authorities said.

White, 19, of the 8200 block of South Dante Avenue, died later that day.

Friends described him as wise beyond his years.

“He didn’t think like kids from our generation,” said friend Arielle Williams, 18. “He had an old soul and he seemed so old, so mature. He was very intellectual.”

White moved to Chicago when he was in fourth grade and bragged to his classmates that his father stayed in New Orleans to help hurricane victims, said friend Tevon Blair, 18.

White was well read, stayed up to date on current events and could easily hold a conversation with older adults, said Lenora Dennis, the mother of one of White’s friends.

“He was an exceptionally bright kid,” said Dennis’ husband, Kenneth Holman. “It’s like he was born on a different path but got swallowed up in the streets.”

White lived with his mother, but often stayed with Dennis and Holman, said Williams. White’s mother declined to comment.

“Cassius was very headstrong, and he’d listen to her, but he wasn’t keen on taking her advice,” Williams said. “He told me once he wished he could be the man she wanted him to be and he wished they were closer. He loved his mom.”

Holman and Dennis said they invited White into their home because they wanted to keep him off the streets. They said their house was a safe place for him and his friends to listen to music and play video games without getting in trouble.

Holman, who operates a recording studio out of his home, said he frequently tried to persuade White to pursue rapping, but White never showed much interest.

However, White brought up rapping during their last conversation, when he told Holman he was ready to record his first track.

“I was looking forward to him being under our watch in the studio and off the streets,” Holman said. “He fell in with some guys that were into street life and slowly devolved into that world in the last few months. I got the vibe that he realized he needed to do music because the walls were closing in.”

Friend Lamont Brown, 19, said he and some of White’s older friends tried to keep him out of trouble, but they could tell White was growing increasingly reckless.

Friend Kyndal Buchanan, 18, said White had a tough exterior, but still cared deeply for his friends and always put their needs first. She said he had a great sense of humor and could make anyone laugh.

Brown said that although White was “in the wrong state of mind” in recent months, he still had good intentions and aspired to be successful in life.

Nobody has been charged for the murder. Area South detectives continue to investigate.

‘Seeing him in the hospital bed like that…. made me feel numb’

By Emily Gray Brosious | Originally published at Homicide Watch Chicago | Jul. 8, 2014

Video by Emily Gray Brosious and Peter Holderness

It has been nearly a year since Andrew Turner was fatally shot in the North Lawndale neighborhood, and his family continues to search for answers as they struggle to cope with their loss.

It’s still unbelievable. It’s still fresh to me. And for it still not to be solved, that hurts a lot,” said Ebony Scott, Turner’s girlfriend and mother of his two oldest children.

Turner was a “family man” who was silly but firm with his children, Scott said. He wanted to raise them to be good men.

He took care of us,” Scott said. “He was my rock.”

Turner, 23, of the 1100 block of South Independence Boulevard, was shot in the jaw July 26, 2013, in the 3200 block of West Roosevelt Road, authorities said. He died six days later at Mount Sinai hospital.

Seeing him in the hospital bed like that, it made me feel numb.” Scott said. “I really thought he was going to make it. I had so much hope. … When I lost him, I felt like I didn’t want to live anymore. My heart stopped.”

Police said Turner had gang affiliations. Scott denied that claim, but admits Turner sold drugs to support his family.

There’s a lot of rumors … People hear he was black and he got shot, so they assume things,” Scott said. “Everybody’s got different ways of making a living. People out here selling a lot of things they shouldn’t be selling. But a lot of people doing it for the wrong reasons. Andy did it for his family.”

Scott doesn’t know why Turner was murdered, but thinks it has something to do with jealousy. She described him as a handsome and smart man with a nice family and nice cars.

I think they wanted what he had,” she said. “People don’t want to see you shine out here. Andy was shining in his glow, and they took him out that glow.”

Scott said she had been fearful of dangers associated with Turner’s lifestyle, but said he was on good terms with everyone.

I never thought this would happen,” said Audrey Langston, Turner’s grandmother. “He was a generous spirit and a free spirit … I miss him so much.”

Langston raised Turner and five of his siblings. She remembers him as a shy, well-mannered child.

People were always telling me how respectful he was,” Langston said. “That’s rare from young men these days.”

Turner was trying to turn his life around before he died, Scott said. He wanted a legitimate career and she tried to help him fill out job applications, she said.

A lot of people don’t know, but Andy was smart. He even went to college and he could of graduated,” Scott said. “But he got sidetracked with ‘Oh you’re pregnant, we need money.’”

Scott and Langston both think people in the neighborhood know who shot Turner and ask anyone with information to come forward.

I just want the detectives to come to my door one day and be like, ‘We got him,’” Scott said. “That’s all I want. I think about that every day.”

DATA ANALYSIS: Higher percentage of fatal stabbing victims are women

By Emily Gray Brosious | Originally published at Homicide Watch Chicago | June 27, 2014

While nearly 82 percent of Chicago’s 610 homicides since the start of 2013 have been from shootings, 49 people have been stabbed to death.

During that time, the percentage of women stabbing victims was significantly higher than the percentage of women gunshot victims, according to Cook County medical examiner’s office data.

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 7.36.19 PMOf the 49 fatal stabbings, 16 were females. And while women made up nearly 33 percent of fatal stabbing victims, they made up only about 0.5 percent of shooting victims in the past 18 months.

In addition to being female, stabbing victims were older than people who were fatally shot. Since the beginning of 2013, the average age of stabbing victims were about 34, while the average age of shooting victims are about 27.

Overall, about 8.5 percent of all homicides in the city since the start of 2013 were stabbings — making it the second most common type of murder.

The percentage is consistent with the fatal stabbing rate over the past 10 years, which ranged from about 6.5% to 11.5%, according to Chicago Police’s annual murder reports and information from the medical examiner’s office. Stabbing data from 2012 was not immediately available.

While the Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled 49 Chicago deaths as homicides from stab or incised wounds, the Chicago Police Department has called some of those deaths self defense, and have not classified them as murders.

Of the cases police classified as murders, a much higher percentage of attackers are charged in stabbings compared to shootings.

The state’s attorney’s office charged suspects in nearly 70 percent of all stabbing cases since the start of 2013, authorities said. In 2013, police cleared about 30 percent of all murders, including the stabbings.

— Contributing: Michael Lansu

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Grandmother: Slain teen Ja-Quez Williams wanted to be cop

BY Jessica Koscielniak and Emily Gray Brosious | Originally published at Homicide Watch Chicago | June 4, 2014

Ja-Quez Williams wanted to become a police officer to stop the violence in his Austin community, his family said.

The violence Ja-Quez, 17, longed to stop took his life before he ever got that chance when he was fatally shot in the head in the 5500 block of West North Avenue about 2:05 a.m. April 26, authorities said.

“He was a beautiful, vibrant person — full of life,” said his grandmother, Inez Williams said. “It was a senseless thing, I really don’t understand. No children should be gunned down like cattle.”

Inez Williams raised her grandson from a young age, she said. The two shared a bedroom and prayed together at the end of the day.

Each night before drifting off to sleep he’d say, “Goodnight grandma,” Inez Williams said.

Prosecutors said Frederick Woods-Rivas, 23, walked up to a group standing outside and shot Ja-Quez in the back of the head. Judge Peggy Chiampas ordered Woods-Rivas held without bond.

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Ja-Quez, of the 5400 block of West North Avenue, died at the scene, according to Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Ja-Quez had gone out to get a submarine sandwich and was waiting for his uncle to pick him up when he was gunned down, his grandmother said.

Inez Williams said the neighborhood is infested with gang activity, but claims Ja-Quez was not a gang member.

She has been weary of the gun violence in her neighborhood, but never expected it to affect her directly.

“Older guys, the ones that run the area over there, tased him and threw him in a car and tried to make him and the younger boys do things,” Inez Williams said. “They tell them they won’t go to jail because they’re minors.”

Inez Williams said her grandson wasn’t a violent person and was afraid of the gang members who threatened him for trying to avoid the gang lifestyle.

“There’s just too much violence and kids shouldn’t have to live like that,” she said. “It’s so prevalent in the city.”

After the shooting, Mayor Rahm Emanuel called Inez Williams with condolences for the loss of her grandson, she said.

“I was surprised he called because I was feeling so hurt and I didn’t know really which way to turn,” she said. “He said when children are getting gunned down like that, we’ve got to do something together.”

Inez Williams hopes Emanuel can develop strategies to stop the violence.

Young people with guns need to understand the real impact of their actions and empathize with the pain they cause victims’ family and loved ones,” she said.