For at least two months, Jasmine Marie Johnson had been trying to leave her increasingly abusive boyfriend.
During her last effort earlier this week, Derell Sikes shot her as she tried to drive away from an argument they had outside his home in Stony Island Park on the South Side.
Johnson, 25, crashed into another vehicle in the 7800 block of South Bennett and died of the gunshot wound at University of Chicago Medical Center, according to Chicago police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office. But before her passing, Sikes, 27, fatally shot himself.
The two had met two years ago, according to her cousin Jessica Disu, who is a peace activist and rap artist known as FM Supreme. Johnson had lived and grown up in South Holland, and met Sikes through a mutual friend. But recently, Johnson had confided in Disu that she wanted to leave him for an old boyfriend.
“She realized he wasn’t good for her, and the girl and her high school sweetheart were making plans to get back together,” Disu said. “And then [Sikes] shot her and killed himself.”
Disu is far from the only person whose lost someone in such a brutal manner. Just last week, hundreds of mourners paid respects to Dr. Tamara O’Neal, who was murdered last month by her ex-fiancé during his shooting spree at Mercy Hospital.
There are no patterns to predicting those most likely to fall victim to domestic violence, said Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence executive director Vickie Smith. It can happen to anyone.
“People think if we have entry to education, if we achieve status, if we have resources, we’re somehow immune,” she said. “But people who are willing to commit violence can be charming and loving and we don’t see the side of them until it’s too late and they step up their aggression.”
The quarrel between Sikes and Johnson was likely fueled by him learning of her plans to end the relationship, Disu said. Johnson’s family had supported the decision, knowing “that she was too good for him,” but that makes her murder all the harder to stomach.
“This situation is unforgivable,” Disu said. “There is no answer. There is no justice. He killed himself. The devil did this.”
The family and friends of Jasmine Marie Johnson is asking for the community to stand with our family this evening at 6:30pm. We will light 3 candles and lay some teddy bears and pray before our press conference on 78th and Bennett. We will then have a peace walk #Herstory pic.twitter.com/oPGtBxCdF8— Jessica Disu (@FMSupreme) December 7, 2018
Johnson’s other cousin, 20-year-old Mikhayla Hale, said she was on the phone with her when she was murdered.
She had been calling her on-and-off, in hysterics, explaining that he was threatening her and that she wanted someone to come get her. In the background, Hale heard him say phrases like, “You’re not going to make it home.” But before she could pinpoint her location, she heard a boom — likely the sound of her car crashing — before the phone call dropped.
“She always came to my rescue for whatever and this is the one time she called me and I couldn’t help her,” a tearful Hale said.
Hale and Johnson had been best friends growing up in the south suburbs. She remembers Johnson always had a sweet, goofy personality and knew how to joke around to lighten up tough situations. She especially liked to sing and reenact scenes from the movie “The Temptations.”
At the end of her life, she had been working at Sam’s Club and preparing to attend college during the spring, Disu said. And, as the youngest of five children, she was sometimes known as “Princess Jasmine.”
“She didn’t have to fight,” she said. “Her family fought her battles.”
Johnson’s funeral was scheduled for 10 a.m. Dec. 14 at Christ Community Church in South Holland, Disu said. A GoFundMe to pay for funeral expenses had raised about $6,000 as of Friday afternoon.
In the wake of these murder-suicides, Smith noted that she has been asked whether this would be a turning point in how seriously the public took matters of domestic violence. But she says more education will be needed for people to be prepared. She advises current victims of domestic violence to call the state’s 24-hour help line, (877) 863-6338, to understand their situation and map out a plan.
“We talk about this every time we have one of these murders or shootings,” she said. “It’s not one incident and we’re going to change things. We have a long way to go.”