Rep. Bobby Rush holds meeting after dozens of women found strangled to death in Chicago

CHICAGO — U.S. Rep Bobby Rush (D-1st) held a meeting Thursday evening to address concerns about the dozens of women found strangled to death on Chicago's South and West sides.

The meeting was held Thursday at 6 p.m. at Northeastern Illinois University’s Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies.

Community members have feared that a serial killer preying on women may be on the loose. Those concerned addressed the cases of missing women such as Kierra Coles and Chaunti Bryla.

Brenda Stewart works with The Dreamcatcher Foundation which is fighting to end human trafficking in Chicago.

“I feel that people don’t care about women that are on drugs, work the streets. I mean, they’re human,” she said.

She said the unsolved cases of mostly black women is scary.

“If a family member doesn’t push the issue, of course they're not going to look. That’s just another dead body, let’s take her to the morgue, she works the streets,” she said.

Thomas Hargrove, with the Murder Accountability Project, said Chicago police is genuinely investigation, but said it’s not a simple matter.

“The inability to recognize serial murder is a universal problem. It’s called linkage blindness,” he said.

Hargrove used a computer algorithm to identify a cluster of 51 homicides from 2001 to 2018. One of the most recent was Reo Renee Holyfield, 34, whose body was found in a garbage can in September 2018.

“The large number of unsolved murders of a similar type are often an indicator of serial murder. When we delved into these cases it became increasingly clear to us that these are not a coincidence,” Hargrove said.

Hargrove said multiple killers could be working independently targeting victims who are often sex workers or drug users.

“We’re pretty sure there are two or three in this particular cluster of killings,” he said. “DNA is critical and the Chicago police are carefully going over what evidence still exists and what can be sent to the lab.”

Hargrove and Stewart will both speak at Thursday’s meeting. Chicago police have assigned a team of detectives on an FBI violent crimes task force to look at the unsolved cases.

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