Teresa Bunn was eight months pregnant when her body was found inside a burning trash can in Chicago 12 years ago. Bunn’s death came within a day of that of another woman, Hazel Marion Lewis. Lewis’ body also was found inside a burning trash can in Chicago.
According to the Murder Accountability Project, Bunn and Lewis are only two of at least 51 women in Chicago, most of them, like Bunn and Lewis, African American, whose killings since 2001 have gone unsolved and should have police on the hunt for a serial killer.
Now, after much pressure from community activists and advocates, Chicago police say they will look into the possibility, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said during a community forum Thursday there is no evidence a serial killer exists, the Sun-Times reports, but that police will begin a review.
And that is a relief, Murder Accountability Project founder Thomas Hargrove told the Sun-Times:
“It is extremely valuable to look at all the cases as a group. We are pretty confident there will be commonality,” he said.
According to the Murder Accountability Project’s report, most of the 51 victims in Chicago were found in alleyways, garbage cans, empty lots or abandoned buildings. Many of the cases involved prostitutes and appeared to have been sexually motivated, the report said.
“If you look at these, at the nature of the cases, it’s classic. It couldn’t be more serial-looking,” said Thomas Hargrove, founder of the Murder Accountability Project. “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 said.
Chicago police will have the assistance of the FBI, according to Atlanta Black Star.
As Atlanta Black Star explains, the Murder Accountability Project report
noted that many of the victims were found in alleyways, garbage cans, empty lots or abandoned buildings on Chicago’s South or West sides. Moreover, many of the women were African-American.
Using a computer algorithm to investigate possible links between the killings, the report suggested that many of the cases involved prostitution and were sexually-motivated.
Hargrove, in an interview with NPR, says figuring out what happened to these women may take “months” or “years,” but with no police action, the killings will likely continue.
“There’s a certain amount of politics in serial murder, I’m sorry to say,” Hargrove said. “Is it fair to spotlight 51 particular cases? We think it is because history tells us that a serial killer will continue until he is stopped.”