Chicago Police Task Force looks at Possible Links in the Deaths of 50 Women

(Sun Times Wire) Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said Thursday that a task force has been convened to investigate possible links between the deaths of over 50 women who have been found slain across the city since 2001.

Bishop Gregg L. Greer, of Freedom First International, raised the issue during the public comment section of Thursday’s monthly Police Board meeting, claiming that a serial killer has been responsible for the killings.

“There’s been an allotment of … young women of color in the urban community — Far South Side, South Side, West Side — that have turned up in garages, turned up in alleys, turned up in garbage cans,” Greer said.

“We believe that there is a serial killer in Chicago that is on the loose,” added Greer.

Following the meeting, Johnson rebuffed Greer’s central claim but confirmed that the department convened a task force “about a month ago” to probe any possible links. He couldn’t say how many officers are currently assigned to the task force, and police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking clarification.

“CPD has looked at all of those cases, and there’s nothing to support a serial killer being out there,” Johnson told the Sun-Times. “We’re still waiting for certain evidence to come back and when that does it may change.”

A report by the Murder Accountability Project, a Virginia-based nonprofit that disseminates information about homicides, holds that the deaths of 51 women who have been found strangled or asphyxiated “have characteristics suggestive of serial murder.”

Most of the women have been found in alleyways, garbage cans, vacant lots or abandoned buildings, according to the report. The group’s director, Thomas Hargrove, also noted that many of the cases involved prostitutes and appear to have been sexually-motivated.

“If you look at these, at the nature of the cases, it’s classic. It couldn’t be more serial-looking,” Hargrove claimed. “It’s got every element for a classic pattern.”

“It actually stretches credulity to imagine that these 51 women were killed by 51 separate men,” he added.

The killings, which trace back to 2001, were identified using “a computer algorithm known to detect serial killings,” the report says.

Hargrove noted that he turned over his findings to Johnson in March, but claimed he first alerted to police to the killings in 2017 when he offered up another written report and spoke to a detective in the superintendent’s office.

Hargrove said he also gave copies of the report to Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) and state Sen. Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago), who held a hearing later that month to investigate the state crime lab’s backlog of DNA evidence from hundreds of murder cases.

Johnson said the department could actually be investigating more than 50 cases, but claimed there was nothing to link any of them yet.

“Trust me, if there was, there would be no reason for us not to share that with y’all,” Johnson added. “What would we gain by not being transparent? Nothing.”

Johnson noted that the department is investigating the cases with the help of the FBI. A spokesperson for the agency didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on its role in the investigation.

Greer urged police to begin issuing community alerts and offering other information to the public about the killings, even if the department isn’t ready to determine whether they’re linked.

“Fifty cases is too much. We need accountability post-haste. It’s gotta stop,” Greer said.

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