It might just be one of the worst Chicago crimes you’ve probably never heard about. It involves teenagers, charges of kidnapping, and sexual torture– all in a South Side basement.
FOX Chicago began investigating the incident shortly after it happened in late April. And now, the victim’s mother has decided to speak out because, she says, the investigation has stalled.
“I think it was random, you know, I think they look for girls that they can talk to or snatch, and I think they realized that she would be an easy target,” she said. “They probably offered her a pop with something in it.”
The nightmare began when the victim (FOX is not revealing her identity, or her mother’s) momentarily left her Bronzeville apartment to take out the trash. She never came back; her mother found the trash on the ground in the alley less than ten minutes later.
Police say the teen’s kidnappers took her to a little-used laundry room in the basement of a Washington Park apartment building, where she was forced to have sex with multiple men.
“You know what she told me? She said that it was ‘a long line, mommy. It was a lot of people, a big, long line’,” the victim’s mother said.
“She said, ‘Mommy, there were little boys and big men.” Police say it was a gang rape that lasted nearly a day.
“She was bruised from head to toe. They hit her. She had big patches of her hair pulled out,” her mother said, on the verge of tears.
Twenty-four hours later, police found the girl two blocks away from the building where the rape occurred.
“They couldn’t hardly examine her because she was bleeding so bad and she was ripped so bad,” her mother explained. An unknown man led her out of the basement, her mother said, walked her a safe distance away from the scene, and called police.
“He may have been doing wrong too,” she said, “but at least in the end he had some compassion.”
Despite the horrendous nature of this crime, the girl’s mother says her daughter was able to remember the first names of several of her attackers, just by listening to them talk with one another. That information led police back to the crime scene where they started interviewing neighbors and finding witnesses–and where people began turning on one another.
Investigators arrested three people in connection with the crime–two adults and one juvenile–and charged them all with criminal sexual assault and kidnapping. But they’re still looking for as many as eight more people.
One of the accused, 18-year-old Rajah Latimore, lived just a couple doors south from the crime scene. No one at address would comment on the case.
17-year-old Phillip Brown is also charged, and he lived in the building where the rape occurred. Brown’s mother was willing and eager to talk.
“He didn’t have no sex with her,” said Patricia Couch. “So many guys were coming through the back yard. I don’t know what they were going down there to do.”
Police and prosecutors say Brown told them he decided against having sex with the victim when he went down into the basement, saw a line of guys waiting for their turn with her, became impatient, and left.
Even his mother admits, “He was an accessory to it because he should have said something about it.”
A young man named Jacque, also 17, was questioned by the police but not charged.
“I went down there. I didn’t see what they were doing, but I knew,” he explained, his words trailing off. He said he saw about six men in the basement with the girl, but he insisted, “I didn’t partake in nothing.” Still, he added, “I don’t think she was raped because she let them do it. She wasn’t screaming or nothing.”
Philip Brown’s mother agrees. “I don’t think they raped her. I think it was her own free will to have sex with them.”
Although the victim is 18-years-old, her mother said her mental disability means “she’s actually the equivalent of 4 or 5 on a good day.”
In their new South Side apartment they moved to after the attack, mother and daughter practiced counting and reciting the alphabet together one hot July day.
“She’s mostly mentally challenged,” her mother said as she then coaxed the teen to recite the days of the week in the correct order.
“Sunday, Thursday, Wednesday, ” the girl said, struggling.
FOX Chicago asked Jacque whether he had perceived the girl to be mentally disabled. “She’s like mentally kind of slow, probably,” he agreed. But then, when asked about the likelihood someone with the victim’s mental condition would be able to consent to sexual relations, he simply said, “She let them do it. It’s like she knew what she was doing.”
The victim’s mother is overwrought with emotion and anger.
“I can’t believe they did that to my baby. She’s a sweetheart, just a sweetheart. She said that all she kept telling them was, ‘My mommy’s gonna get you’.”
More than three months have now passed since the teen was attacked. Police say their investigation continues but because of the mental state of the victim, it’s tough going. Because her memory and her ability to recall specific details is limited to begin with, it makes identification of new suspects extremely difficult, if not impossible.
The Illinois State Crime Lab, however, is examining 12 used condoms found at the basement scene and investigators are hoping DNA results will provide some breaks in the case.