November 20, 2007

One of two burned bodies discovered in Kenwood

Police discovered the burned remains of two women who had been strangled to death last week on Chicago’s South Side, including one near Hyde Park, and are currently investigating whether the two deaths are linked.

The first body was found behind a dumpster at approximately 11:45 p.m. on November 12 on the 6100 block of South Prairie Avenue, situated southwest of Washington Park, according to officer Laura Kubiak of the Chicago Police Department.

The charred and mutilated body was later identified as Theresa Bunn through dental records.

Bunn, 21, was eight months pregnant and had been missing since Monday, November 10, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Police are investigating whether Bunn’s killing is related to a similar violent crime, which occurred just before 1 a.m. on November 14 on the 800 block of East 50th Street.

“There are similarities in the manner of death and how the bodies were disposed of,” said Chicago police spokeswoman Monique Bond in a Chicago Tribune article.

The second body was found strangled and set ablaze after the Chicago Fire Department’s Engine 45 responded to a report of flames from a dumpster behind Reavis Elementary School, at 834 East 50th Street in Kenwood.

The identity of the woman, pronounced dead at the scene, is still unknown, but police suspect the victim was close to 30 years in age. Police are pursuing a possible lead on the woman’s family.

Detectives from multiple areas said that they are communicating regularly and cross-referencing information.

While no link between the murders has yet been discovered, police said that once the second body is identified they will begin contacting family members and investigating the victims’ backgrounds. In stores and restaurants throughout Hyde Park, posters discussing the violent circumstances of the deaths have been hung on the walls and windows.

Reavis Elementary School, where the second body was discovered, operated under normal conditions following the discovery, as principal Michael Johnson expressed the desire to keep students and families safe while not sensationalizing the case.

“Kids, they do not know what they’re walking into around here,” Eloise Henry, a neighborhood resident and mother told the Tribune. “I just pray for my safety walking around at night.”

Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, in whose ward the school is located, said that the murders were disturbing but that it was too soon to jump to conclusions and that more details had to be uncovered.

Community activists have spoken out to demand a stronger police presence in the neighborhood.

Police have not yet identified any suspects in either case.