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Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington and Cook County Crime Stoppers Chairman George McDade made presentations to a small gathering of families and friends of homicide victims whose cases have not yet been solved. The meeting, organized by Carolyn Murray, was held at Christ Temple Church on April 25. 

Ms. Murray’s son, Justin, died of gunshot wounds on Nov. 29, 2012. His case is not yet solved. 

Unsolved Homicides 

Chief Eddington said he was not comfortable sharing details about individual cases in a public forum, but he said if family members wanted to discuss a case privately, he would be happy to do so. He provided forms for family members to provide contact information, so he could follow up with them. 

Chief Eddington and Deputy Chief Jamraz provided a summary of how police investigate a homicide, how and why they call in and work with NORTAF, and how they regularly review what might be called “cold cases.” Police may receive additional information on cold cases through tips, interviews conducted on other, more recent cases, or through search warrants in which guns or other evidence are seized, they said. 

Chief Eddington provided statistics on the number of homicides in Evanston since 1980 and the number that have been solved. He prefaced his remarks with a comment that he recognized the personal loss people feel when a family member is killed. 

Between 1980 and 2013, there have been 102 homicides in Evanston, the Chief said. Of those, 70 have been cleared, 31 are open cases and one has been referred to another jurisdiction. 

Of the 70 cases that have been cleared, 55 were cleared by arrests, four were ruled suicides, seven were ruled accidental, and four self-defense. 

Although there has been a downward trend in the number of homicides in the last three decades, the data shows a jump in the last three years. Chief Eddington reported there were 50 homicides in the 1980s, 22 in the 1990s, 18 in the 2000s, and 12 between 2010 and now. 

He said he thought the decrease was due in significant part to a change in how domestic violence cases are handled. Police are required to arrest a person if there is probable cause of an offence and to remove him or her from the home for 72 hours. He also said advances in medical treatment save lives and reduce fatalities from gun-shot wounds. 

Responding to a remark that “It seems like the police think everyone is a gang member,” Chief Eddington said he disagreed, and added “There’s a fundamental shift” in the way the police department has been operating. He said, “I have removed a significant amount of police resources from street-level enforcement. If you’re going to do street-level enforcement, people are going to be stopped, people are going to be frisked. There are going to be a lot of people stopped and frisked who weren’t doing anything wrong. We have backed away from that position to focus on higher-level offenders. We feel this is effective on several levels. … It’s much more focused on higher-level offenders.” 

He said the homicide rates in New York have fallen off the charts based on “stop and frisk.” He said, though, that the people who “are upset about it are members of the minority community, black and Hispanic. They are the ones who are stopped and frisked.

“We have made a conscious decision to go in an opposite direction,” said Chief Eddington. 

He said he thinks the Evanston Police Department’s approach has been effective, and added they have been working with federal authorities, who have substantial resources and technology available. He cited “Operation Bloodhound” as an example in which Evanston police worked together with federal authorities to target the Belizean Bloods street gang. That operation culminated in 2011 with numerous persons named in a federal indictment. 

The Chief said police would be making an announcement of an arrest in connection with cold homicide case in the next few weeks.

Police and Crime Stoppers Seek Community Help

Mr. McDade said Crime Stoppers has been in existence since 1985, and it operates a tip line that people may call to provide information about crimes and do so anonymously. He said Crime Stoppers gets families and friends of victims together, and they knock on doors in the neighborhood and hand out flyers, asking people to call in information they may have on a particular crime. 

He said Crime Stoppers offers a reward of up to $1,000 for information that leads to an arrest. He said, “A lot of people don’t do tips for money. They do it because it’s right.” 

Crime Stoppers has relayed tips to police that have helped solve 2,250 cases, Mr. McDade said; 37 of those were homicides. 

“When the community gets involved, when family and friends get involved, when it gets personal, cases get solved,” said Mr. McDade. 

He emphasized, “Crime Stoppers does not investigate. We do not do the policemen’s job.” 

Both Chief Eddington and Ms. Murray asked Crime Stoppers to distribute flyers asking people to provide information about the shooting death of Justin Murray. 

Mr. McDade told the RoundTable that on April 27, Crime Stoppers, together with 20-25  persons who are family or friends of Justin’s family distributed about 1,400 flyers in the area where Justin was shot. “It was a great turnout and hopefully it will result in a tip the police can use,” he said. 

 “We are creating a message that these cases need to be solved by a cooperative effort between the police and the community,” said Commander Jay Parrott of the Evanston Police Department. “Police and community members are hopeful that this will encourage anyone with information on this murder to come forward and cooperate with police in this investigation.” 

Peace March and Rally on June 22

Ms. Murray said, “I will continue to work in the community to end violence in this town.” 

She announced last week that she is organizing a Prayer March and Anti-Gun Violence Rally on June 22 in conjunction with some Evanston youth groups. The peace march will begin at 11 a.m. at Faith Temple Church, and the group will march to Evanston Township High School’s football field, where a rally will begin at noon, she said. The entire community is invited to attend. 

“The event will be almost entirely planned by Evanston youth concerned for their safety in our community,” said Ms. Murray.

Reward In Justin Murray Homicide

Cook County Crime Stoppers is offering up to a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for the shooting death of Justin Murray that took place in the 1800 block of Brown Avenue on Nov. 29, 2012. Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers hotline at 800-535-7867 or text a tip to 274637, then type the letters CPD for proper routing, then type in the tip. Crime Stoppers says the tips will remain anonymous and names need not be given. People providing a tip will be given a code number.EPD Reward for Gun Tips

The Evanston Police Department also has a text-a-tip program. Individuals with information should text the tip to 274637, then start the message with the letters EPDTIP to ensure proper routing. The message goes through an independent third-party service provider that protects the anonymity of persons providing tips, police say.

Evanston Police have begun to offer a $100 reward for tips on illegally carried guns that lead to a successful gun recovery and arrest. Persons interested in making a tip about an illegally carried gun, should text the tip to 274637, and start their message with EPDTIP and GUNTIP, followed by as much information about the gun as possible. Tipsters will be provided with a code that will allow the tipster to remain anonymous and receive the reward. For more information visit www.cityofevanston.org/police/textatip.

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...