This undated family photo provided by Riccardo Holyfield shows his cousin, Reo Renee Holyfield. Her body was in a container, and no one found her for two weeks last fall. The slaughter as Holyfield ‘ s that began in 2001 continued this year and remain unresolved. Now a national non-profit group and a computer algorithm to help detectives of the cases, and the reveal of the possible connections. The new research gives hope to the families of the victims, some of whom have waited nearly two decades for the answers. (Thanks to Riccardo Holyfield via AP)
CHICAGO – The bodies have surfaced in a number of Chicago’s most neglected places: alleys, abandoned buildings, weed-choked lot and dumpsters. The victims were primarily black women who are strangled or suffocated.
The authorities believed there were many who were prostitutes or drug addicts or both. There was evidence of sexual attacks, and some of the dead were naked or wearing ragged clothes, if someone had tried to rip them off.
The massacre, which began in 2001 continued this year and remain unresolved. Now a national non-profit group and a computer algorithm to help detectives of the cases, and the reveal of the possible connections. The new research gives hope to the families of the victims, some of whom have waited nearly two decades for the answers.
“I have to say that I have developed from what happened, put it in the hands of God. But deep inside I know that I haven’t,” said Marsean Shines, a teenager with his aunt, Winifred Seems, was strangled and left in an alley for almost 19 years ago. Family members have always wondered if she died in the hands of the killer, who choked the life of other women they knew or heard.
An arrest, Shines said, would help him move on and not be “held back if there is a bungee cord that brings me to my aunt.”
The Murder Accountability Project, which analyzes the number of homicides in the US, fed information on thousands of Chicago murder victims and how they died in a computer, which eventually spitting 51 strikingly similar cases in which women whose bodies were found in some of the poorest areas of the city.
“If you are the stories together … it just screams serial killer,” said Thomas Hargrove, the founder of the project, who presented his findings to the police in 2017.
Hargrove’s group has similar work elsewhere. In 2010, analyzed a pattern of 15 unsolved strangulations of women in Indiana. Four years later, a man in Gary confessed to killing seven of them. In Cleveland, in the data group, led the police to create a task force to investigate a serial killer or killers were responsible for the death of as many as 60 women.
Detectives in Chicago started the investigation under pressure from activists. They are now the review of the reports and the evidence in each of the dead, looking for links that went unnoticed in the original probes, as well as new instructions. At the same time, Rep. Bobby Rush, in whose district many of the murders occurred, has asked the FBI to join the investigation, and plans for a meeting to warn about the risks of a serial killer.
So far, the police have not reported any breakthroughs or firm connections between the massacre. In 21 murders, where DNA evidence is recovered, the genetic evidence, which belonged to 21 different people.
The man with the supervision of the six detectives are assigned to the slaughter said he did not believe that there are ‘ one or two bad guys travel to the city,” preying on women.
The idea of an offender who is “the skip of the white prostitutes to kill the black, that makes no sense,” Deputy chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said.
Still, he would not be surprised if the investigation concluded that “there were multiple bad guys that there is more than one,” or if there is other evidence surfaced that an increase in the number of investigations 51.
Another mystery is the way in which the murders stopped in February 2014, with the discovery of Diamond Turner’s body in a garbage can, and not start again until June 2017, with the death of Catherine Saterfield-Buchanan.
“Perhaps this man was in prison,” said Greg Greer, a Chicago minister and founder of the Freedom of the First international, a human rights organization.
The Murder Accountability Project has asked the police to search for “a man is not available to murder women in Chicago during these three years,” Hargrove said. “We think that could explain the pause. And now he is back, or are they back in it.”
Also looming over the study is the care that the victims are the kind of people whose deaths normally warrant no more than a few lines in a newspaper, if that.
“I think about how my cousin was in a dumpster and no one found her for two weeks,” said Riccardo Holyfield, whose cousin, Reo Renee Holyfield, died last fall. “How can a body have to sit in a dumpster for so long in a well-traveled alley?”
Greer suggested the answer is bound to both that these victims were and where they died.
“Very often, poor urban communities are not getting the same amount of services that wealthy communities do, that is a general fact,” Greer said.
Deenihan, do not agree with. “There is a group of people who think that as a result of the lifestyle of these trials did not receive the attention they deserve (but that is not the case,” he said.
As intriguing as the conversation of a serial killer might be, the authorities may find that the common theme of the cases is the victim himself, and not who killed them.
“You talk about a high-risk lifestyle,” he said, explaining that people who work as prostitutes “in 20 different cars a night … and sharing drugs with people that they don’t really know.”
Seems to acknowledge that his aunt was addicted to crack and would have sex in exchange for drugs or money to buy drugs with the other men he saw coming in and out of her house.
As soon as the detectives read all of the cases, they get together as a team to discuss them, Deenihan said.
“What happens is that a guy could say, ‘You had a red SUV in your report? “I had one in mine,” he said.
There Is hope on another front. The Chicago police, like other law enforcement agencies, submitting DNA evidence from a national database in the hope that it will return a name. The problem is that if someone is not the conviction, that person’s DNA would not be in the system.
But Deenihan said samples of unsolved murders are submitted regularly so that if any of these people are ever convicted of a crime, the police will have a name to go with one of the DNA samples found at the scene of a strangulation.
That gives Winifred Seems to be the’ family of hope. Her son, Bryant, recently started seeing a therapist to deal with his ancient grief.
“I am not at peace, because he is still there,” he said, referring to his mother’s killer. “And it may be someone we know.”