There has been no justice for Latoya Jackson, the single mother who was murdered along with her three young sons in a Chatham home last summer.There has been no peace either.
Although Jackson’s family was allowed to cremate her remains, the remains of her sons are still at the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.
That office has not released the bodies because there is a dispute over who is the legitimate next of kin for each of the boys.
Latoya’s maternal uncle, Dale Jackson, said he intended to cremate the children and bury their remains with their mother next to Latoya’s grandmother, who died in 2013.
But a man claiming to be the paternal grandfather of two of the dead children — Andrew Simms Jr., 11, and Kameron Simms, 10 — is trying to claim those children’s bodies as well.
The remains of the third child, Cantrell Williams, 5, is also still at the medical examiner’s office.
“Everything is on hold. This is a tragedy upon tragedy,” Dale Jackson told me.
The maternal uncle said he doesn’t understand why anyone other than his family wants to make final arrangements for her children.
“You never came to our house. Never bought a Christmas or birthday present. And when your grandson gets killed you show up on the scene. What is the motive?” he asked.
A spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office said a “grandfather is the second degree of kindred. An uncle would be the third degree of kindred.”
Under Illinois law, the grandfather would have a higher kinship claim.
The medical examiner’s office did not identify the paternal grandfather, and I was unable to locate him on Wednesday.
“At this point in time, we need to be sure that we are releasing remains to the legally rightful person. That hasn’t been done. We haven’t received that documentation and can’t release the remains until we are sure we are doing it on legally sound grounds,” spokeswoman Becky Schlikerman said.
Although the medical examiner identified the 10-year-old boy as Kameron Simms through DNA testing, Dale Jackson said the boy’s birth certificate listed his last name as “Jackson” and did not list a father’s name.
All of the deaths have been ruled homicides.
The uncle said Latoya’s relatives were devastated by these murders.
Mitchell: Getting justice for Latoya Jackson should be a priority
When Latoya’s mother died in 2003 from a drug overdose, the young woman Dale affectionately called “Toya” moved in with her grandmother and the large extended family.
“Toya was pregnant, and they found her mother dead on Mother’s Day. We loved Toya and those kids. They were fed and clothed. If the kids needed shoes, I would buy shoes,” he said.
But the uncle said his niece had a lifestyle “tied to the streets,” and after a while she got to the point of saying, ‘Just give me the money.’”
After a fight with family members over how she was living, Latoya moved to the Chatham bungalow, the uncle said.
“We wanted her to bring the boys back, but she was a lioness about those boys,” he said.
While his niece was “absolutely” a victim of domestic violence, according to Dale Jackson, he believes there was more than one person involved in the killings.
The bodies of Latoya Jackson and her sons were found in different areas of the house. The boys were together in one room. Latoya’s body was found near a porch. The killer or killers set a flash fire, apparently in an effort to destroy evidence.
According to the medical examiner’s office, Jackson is the legal next of kin for Cantrell Williams and as such could make arrangements for him.
But Jackson wants to keep the siblings together. He is trying to reunite Latoya with her boys by Mother’s Day.
“We have her remains, and we are trying to bring the kids together and put them with her and her grandmother. I think of those kids all the time,” he said.