Suburban man charged with first-degree murder in death of Wheeling mother

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Ahmeel Fowler, 26

WHEELING, Ill. — A suburban man has been charged with first-degree murder following the deaths of a Wheeling mother and her 1-year-old daughter.

Ja’nya Murphy, 21, was found dead by police in her apartment on the 300 block of Inland Drive around 10:20 p.m. Tuesday after conducting a well-being check. Police determined her 1-year-old daughter Jaclyn “Angel” Dobbs was missing after she was found dead.

On Thursday afternoon, construction workers alerted authorities in Hammond of a body in a retention pond off I-80 near Kennedy Avenue. The body was identified to be Jaclyn Dobbs on Thursday night.

21-year-old Ja’nya Murphy, 1-year-old Jaclyn “Angel” Dobbs

Investigators tracked down video that helped them to identify a man, later determined to be Ahmeel Fowler, 26, of Pingree Grove, seen with Murphy on Monday.

On Tuesday evening, he was taken into custody in Springfield, Missouri as a person of interest. Police said he had a previous relationship with Murphy.

Fowler has been charged with first-degree murder for the homicide of Murphy and is being extradited back to Illinois. Police expect additional charges for the death of her daughter.

Authorities said the case did not meet the criteria for an Amber Alert, but Illinois State Police issued an Endangered Missing Persons Advisory notification for the toddler.

An autopsy determined Murphy had died of asphyxiation strangulation and her death was ruled a homicide. Murphy was a 2018 graduate of Stevenson High School. She had lived with her daughter at the apartment building where her body was found, police said.

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