Women shaken up by Drexel Street deaths

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The day the bodies of Latoya Jackson and her three sons were found in a house on Drexel Avenue, another woman in a different neighborhood feared for her life.

Jackson, a single mother, was found dead in a bungalow in a historic black neighborhood known for its middle-class values. Also found dead were her three sons: Andrew, 11, Cameron, 9, and Cantrell, 5.

On Monday, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office conducted autopsies on the remains and advised the media that the “cause and manner of death” are pending further investigation.

But Jackson’s relatives and friends have said the 28-year-old woman was involved in an abusive relationship and they suspect foul play.

“This is domestic violence,” April Bussell told ABC-7. Bussell described herself as the dead woman’s best friend.

Although there is no definitive ruling about how this family died, the possibility that Jackson could have been a victim of domestic violence has to be on the minds of every young woman who is or has been involved in a violent relationship.

OPINION

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It certainly was on my mind when I walked into a dilapidated apartment building on the city’s South Side to meet a woman who claimed she had nowhere else to turn.

The six-unit building is in such deplorable condition, the city of Chicago has slapped a bright orange “cease and desist” order on the front door warning of building violations, and Peoples Gas has removed its property from the premises.

Frankly, unspeakable things could go on in the building without anyone noticing.

It took the overwhelming smell of death to uncover the tragedy in Chatham.

Only a few miles away, the young woman who contacted me had spent the night watching her front door.

I’m not identifying her by name, at least not yet, because I believe her life could be at stake.

“Me and my kids are in clear danger,” the woman told me tearfully, showing me numerous orders of protection.

“No matter how many times he violates the order of protection, they still give him a $100 bond. They won’t care about it until I’m dead,” she said.

Unfortunately, my frantic calls to several local domestic violence organizations didn’t turn up an immediate safe haven for this woman.

“Resources are extremely scarce. I think there’s probably less than 200 domestic violence beds across the city,” a counselor with the Chicago Abused Women Coalition told me. She suggested we call the state of Illinois Domestic Violence hotline, or go to a police station.

When I hung up the phone, all I could think was this is a tragedy waiting to happen.

Jackson was a single mother, who by all accounts, was doing the best she could to raise three boys by herself under difficult circumstances.

The loss of this entire family in their home under any circumstances is a tragedy.

But if Jackson fell victim to a domestic violence episode, it would necessitate advocates trying to figure out if more can be done to protect other women from their abusers.

It is too late to save Jackson and her children.

But it is not too late to save a lot of other women.

At the very least, women caught up in domestic violence situations have to know there is a place to run.

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