Over the last 17 years, at least 75 women have been strangled or smothered in Chicago and their bodies dumped in vacant buildings, alleys, garbage cans, and snow banks. Arrests have been made in only a third of the cases, reports the Chicago Tribune.
While there are clusters of unsolved strangulations on the South and West sides, police say they’ve uncovered no evidence of a serial killer at work. If they are right, 51 murderers have gotten away with crimes.
There have been few news stories and even fewer memorials or other public gestures that would have focused attention on these women and how they died. The Tribune began reviewing their cases while following up on the largely ignored story of a woman strangled last summer, her body dumped along a curb.
“It’s a staggering number,” said Kaethe Morris Hoffer of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation. “It is odd how easy it is to disrupt people’s sense of comfort when a large number of people are all killed at once. It is likewise upsetting to realize how, if you spread out over a long period of time, how inured people are to the murdering of women, particularly marginalized women.”
Many of the women struggled with drugs or prostitution, making them particularly vulnerable to predators on the street. Twenty-five of the cases have been closed with the arrests of 13 men, some of them charged with more than one murder.