Murder charge filed in strangling of woman found 3 years ago in trash can: ‘We’re going to get justice for her’
Diamond Turner, who was found strangled and beaten in Grand Crossing in March 2017, “was sweet as pie and would do anything for anyone,” her family said.
The family of murdered 21-year-old Diamond Turner say they can “be at peace” now that a murder charge has been filed against a man who allegedly left her strangled and beaten three years ago on the South Side.
Arthur Hilliard, 52, allegedly dumped Turner’s body in a trash bin in the 7300 block of South Kenwood Avenue in Grand Crossing, where she was found days later by trash collectors on March 3, 2017, according to Chicago police.
Hilliard was arrested Wednesday in Austin. He was ordered held without bail during a court hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse Thursday.
He also is a suspect in two other homicides, prosecutors said at that hearing.
After Diamond Turner’s murder, Turner’s aunt, Latonya Turner, claimed she had secretly recorded Hilliard discussing the murder in detail, and complained that police could not tie him to the murder.
She and community activist Andrew Holmes recorded that meeting with Hilliard, and later took the tape to police.
In the recording, Hilliard can allegedly be heard “describing every detail of her murder, including the location of the sledgehammer she was beaten with, and saying his roommate did it,” Latonya Turner has said.
‘Three long years of agony’
Turner issued a statement, saying: “It’s been three long years of agony and pain for our family. But justice is finally about to be served. Our family can now be at peace.”
Reached by phone, she said: “Diamond was sweet as pie and would do anything for anyone. [So] for him to do her like that was senseless.”
Holmes told the Sun-Times Thursday he’s “glad [police] connected the dots.”
“Everything pointed to this man. ... We had faith that sooner or later this man would be apprehended,” he said.
During an unrelated news conference, Interim Police Supt. Charlie Beck said although Hilliard was “the primary suspect,” investigators had to wait for DNA to be analyzed, leading to the gap between Diamond Turner’s murder and the charges being filed against Hilliard.
Beck said that because Chicago police do not have their own lab to analyze DNA, they have to rely on the state, which has long suffered from a significant backlog of cases.
Beck said a warrant was served for Hilliard’s arrest “as soon as the DNA came back.”
Family: She was last seen with Hilliard
Latonya Turner has said that as far as her family knew, she was last seen March 1, 2017 leaving Red’s Lounge, 6929 S. Stony Island Ave., with Hilliard.
But in court Thursday, prosecutors said Diamond Turner was also seen by multiple witnesses after going to a club at an apartment building in the 7300 block of South Dorchester Avenue that Hilliard managed and lived at, where they continued to drink.
Prosecutors said Hilliard and Diamond Turner were in a relationship at the time.
One witness reported seeing Diamond Turner in Hilliard’s bed that night, prosecutors said, and another witness reported later cleaning up a blood trail from Hilliard’s room to the back door of the apartment. Hilliard told a witness the blood was from a cut on his leg, but DNA recovered from the apartment’s floor was later matched to Diamond Turner, prosecutors said.
Hilliard allegedly said Diamond Turner had left during the night, but witnesses said the jacket and shoes she wore the night before were still in the apartment.
A witness reported seeing a black jacket that looked like Turner’s sticking out of a garbage can in an alley behind the building and saw Hilliard bring a garbage can to the rear of the building, which the witness was told not to touch, prosecutors said.
Witnesses also described seeing Hilliard cleaning a hammer in his bedroom and reported helping him carry a “soaking” mattress to the alley, where another witness “held it for a couple of days [and] then got rid of it,” prosecutors said.
An autopsy ruled that Turner died of asphyxia and blunt force trauma to the head in a homicide, authorities said.
Suspect in 2 additional murders
Hilliard was previously charged with the concealment of the murder of Andra Williams, whose body was found with stab wounds on Sept. 1, 2018, in a shopping cart in an alley behind the West Side two-flat where he rented a room.
Hilliard, who managed the building in the 700 block of South Campbell, was captured on surveillance video wheeling the shopping cart with Williams’ body into the alley, police said.
He was initially given bond on that charge, but it was revoked by the same judge days later, and Hilliard eventually pleaded guilty.
Hilliard is still a suspect in the murder of Williams and in a third stabbing homicide at a building he managed, prosecutors said, but they did not provide additional details Thursday.
A law enforcement source said that murder happened in March 2018, nearly six months before Hilliard was charged with concealing Williams’ death.
A spokesman for police declined to comment or provide additional information about that investigation.
In 2019, Hilliard spent 29 days in jail after he was charged with violating his probation and a warrant for his arrest for allegedly violating his probation was issued in June that year, as well.
An assistant public defender for Hilliard said he had six children and has been managing property in the city for 23 years.
Judge Mary Marubio ordered Hilliard held without bail, noting the blood trail and the statements from the witnesses who saw Turner the night she went missing.
His next court date was set for Feb. 18.