Services set for slain 12-year-old Englewood girl

As the investigation continues into the death of 12-year-old Jahmeshia Conner, her family prepares to lay her to rest. Funeral services for the O’Toole Elementary School fifth grader will be held December 12 at New Covenant Baptist Church, 740 E. 77th Street. On Monday, her body was discovered in a South Side alley, near her home in the 6500 block of South Marshfield Avenue, weeks after her family had reported her missing. Friday, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-1st, issued a $10,000 reward for “anyone who helps bring the killer to justice.” The congressman expressed outrage at the slaying, and made a rallying plea for the community to help solve the pre-teen’s “mysterious strangulation” murder case. “Someone out there knows who killed Jahmeshia and they must muster the moral fortitude and courage to come forward with what they know,” Rush said in a written statement. “Ten thousand dollars should be a large enough incentive to loosen lips and open some mouths. We want justice for Jahmeshia so this family and our community can move toward closure. None of us should rest until the person who took her life is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” Conner was leaving church heading home on a Chicago Transit Authority bus Nov. 15, and her family never saw her again. The next day they reported her missing. Officer John Mirabelli of the Chicago Police Department’s News Affairs office said the body was found Monday morning behind the 6400 block of South Marshfield Avenue, a block away from her home. Tuesday, the medical examiner’s office confirmed the body was Conner’s, and that she had been strangled to death. Before Monday’s discovery, some media reports had classified her as a runaway. But Conner’s family was adamant that she was a “good girl” and would not run away. Police officials said that from the beginning, the girl’s disappearance was handled as a missing persons case and that Conner was never considered a runaway. Police faced criticism for their handling of the girl’s disappearance, with family members saying the CPD didn’t do enough to get the word out that Conner was missing. Leak & Son’s funeral home director Spencer Leak told the Defender that Conner’s family would not be asked to pay for her services. Leak said the funeral home would seek payment for the funeral through the state’s special crime victims fund which “may or may not pay,” he said. The Crime Victim Compensation Act pays up to $27,000 to families of innocent crime victims, including a maximum $5,000 for funeral and burial expenses. The funeral director said Conner was an innocent victim in her death. “She wasn’t doing anything wrong … of course she wasn’t, she’s 12,” Leak said. Therefore, “We just don’t want to charge the family in this situation.” Additionally, two funds have been set up at Bank of America in Jahmeshia Conner’s name. One fund holds the $10,000 reward and the other is an emergency fund to help her mother, who is unemployed and has three other minor children, through this tragic time. Contributions can be made to The Jahmeshia Conner Fund, in care of the law firm Gonzalez, Saggio & Harlan, 35 E. Wacker, Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60601. Donations should be sent to the attention of attorney Darryl Tom. For more information, call (312) 638-0014 The investigation into the girl’s death continues, according to police. Services begin at 11 a.m. with the wake, followed by the funeral at noon.

Copyright 2009 Chicago Defender

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