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Crime Stoppers walk neighborhoods around unsolved Chicago Heights, Calumet City homicides

Two unsolved homicide cases in the south suburbs have Crime Stoppers canvassing neighborhoods, handing out flyers and asking for leads.

Cook County Crime Stoppers is looking for information on the deaths of Rayonia “Dee Dee” Young, 19, of Richton Park, who was found dead Aug. 8, 2016 in Chicago Heights, and Jaquan Maxwell, 21, who died Feb. 20, 2022, in Calumet City. Both died from gunshot wounds and both cases are still unsolved.

George McDade, chairman of the county Crime Stoppers, said both police departments reached out for assistance on these cases. He and his team walked door to door around the scene of each crime July 9.

Young was found shot in the driver seat of a vehicle that crashed at the 1100 block of Washington Street in Chicago Heights back in 2016. McDade, however, learned there was a shooting nearby and was curious if perhaps she was shot there.

Police said Young had a handgun tucked into the waistband of her pants, and that another gun was on the ground next to the car. A second gunshot victim was in the passenger seat.

In the other case, police say Jaquan Maxwell was shot inside a house in the 200 block of South Exchange in Calumet City. But McDade said in both cases, someone has to know something.

That’s where Crime Stoppers comes in to help.

“We are not the police, and we have no arresting powers,” McDade said. “And there are people out there who have information and will not share it with the police. But we offer anonymity for anyone who talks to us. We pass along the information to the police for them.”

In Young’s case, even though it was nearly six years ago, people in the neighborhood of the crash still remember hearing gunshots.

“They remember the car crashing into the corner. But they didn’t see who did it, and there really aren’t any cameras out in the streets,” McDade said.

McDade said he passed along any information he received to investigators, but that he himself only knew the basics of the crimes.

“When we talk to the police about a case, we want to know as little as possible, the date, time, victim’s name and address,” McDade said. “Because we don’t want to jeopardize any part of their investigation. This way when we’re out there, we’re giving the police exactly what the community is saying. When we send it back to the detectives they knew either that or it’s a new twist to it.”

McDade said, contrary to what many people think, perpetrators often do talk about what crimes they have committed.

“It’s not true that gangs don’t talk,” McDade said. “For some of them, it eats them up. They can’t keep a secret.”

For those who do know what happened, though, McDade said they can contact Crime Stoppers under total anonymity. When giving information to Crime Stoppers, you are assigned a code number and never have to give your name, address or phone number.

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“Some people say they don’t want to get anyone in trouble, but ‘here is what I heard,'” McDade said. “Maybe that piece of info fits into the puzzle for the police.”

In Maxwell’s case, since the shooting happened inside of a house, McDade said someone has to know what happened.

“Neighbors say there were gunshots and people fleeing in cars,” he said. “But someone in that house has to know something.”

That’s why McDade said it’s so important for people to speak up.

“If they’re worried about talking to the police, they don’t have to,” McDade said. “I’m the vehicle. But does Crime Stoppers work in every case? No. But it does work. And unless I get out there and try, and unless the community is involved, these cases will not get solved. People do want to get involved. They want these cases solved. They want their neighborhoods to be safe.”

McDade asks anyone with information on either of these cases to call Cook County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-535-STOP or email [email protected]. There is a $1,000 reward in both cases for information leading to an arrest.

Hannah Kohut is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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