They heard the screams.
Then they saw one of the three brutally stabbed victims.
“There was blood everywhere and her neck was turned away from her body,” Linda Abraham said of the night she and others stumbled upon the lifeless 17-year-old girl in their Morgan Park apartment complex.
“It’s something I’ll never forget,” she said.
Denzel Pittman killed his girlfriend, Jade Hannah, before turning the knife on Jade’s mother, Stacy Cochran-Hill, 43, and Jade’s 11-year-old sister, Joi Cochran, Cook County prosecutors said at the opening of Pittman’s bench trial on Wednesday.
Pittman, then 18, allegedly flew into a rage after arguing with Jade about their relationship the evening of Nov. 29, 2010.
Denzel Pittman and his former girlfriend, Jade Hannah. | Photo from Facebook
On Wednesday, nearly half a dozen neighbors from the building, in the 11100 block of South Bell Avenue, testified about the gruesome scene they encountered.
Sherry Thompson was watching television with her husband, Arthur, when they heard a “piercing scream” and the wails of someone screaming, “Momma, Momma!”
When Thompson and her adult daughter ran up to a landing between the first and second floors of the apartment, they saw Jade with stab wounds in her neck and chest.
Thompson, a nurse, turned Jade’s body over and tried resuscitating her while calling 911.
While she was on the phone, she said a young man ran down and told her, “The man just went out the door. I’m going after him.”
Thompson, 57, testified that she couldn’t identify the youth.
But Arthur Thompson, 65, recognized him as the teen who he had seen talking to Jade before and earlier that day.
Arthur Thompson, who later identified Pittman in a lineup, said Pittman vowed to go “after the guy who did this,” but had blood splatter all over his clothes.
Abraham lived across from Cochran-Hill and her two daughters on the second floor of the building.
That night, the legal assistant remembers hearing screams that grew louder and louder.
When Abraham looked through her peephole, she saw a man pounding on someone in between the doorway.
She couldn’t see if he had a knife but saw his “arm going up and down rapidly.”
Thompson said she then saw the man go inside the apartment and heard more screams.
When the screams died down, Abraham slowly came out and saw Sherry Thompson tending to Jade a few feet away.
There was blood all over the walls, Thompson said, trying to hold back tears.
A half hour later, Joseph Banks, who lives three blocks away, heard a knock on his door as he and his wife got ready to watch a movie.
Banks said the man prosecutors said was Pittman asked to use his phone, called his mother and told her to pick him up at the CVS at 111th and Western.
Banks said he noticed that the man’s hands were “dirty” and that he was “shaking a bit.”
“There were dark, discolored splotches on his hands and coat,” said Banks, 40, a software engineer.
Banks said just minutes after Pittman headed toward the drugstore, he saw the squad cars race through his neighborhood.
As a juvenile, Pittman, now 22, was charged with domestic battery of Jade after allegedly pushing and slapping her in his Park Forest home, court records indicate.
Pittman’s triple murder trial resumes Thursday before Judge Timothy Joyce.