Two mothers linked by tragedy: One lost her police officer daughter; the other’s 16-year-old son is accused of the officer’s murder

Among the four people accused of killing Chicago Police Officer Aréanah Preston is 16-year-old Jaylen Frazier.

SHARE Two mothers linked by tragedy: One lost her police officer daughter; the other’s 16-year-old son is accused of the officer’s murder
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Dionne Mhoon, mother of Chicago police Officer Aréanah Preston, talks to reporters Wednesday, after a hearing for four teens accused of killing her daughter.

Victor Hilitski / For the Sun-Times

Dionne Mhoon was careful with her words as she stood in the lobby of the Leighton Criminal Courthouse Wednesday, minutes after hearing how four teens allegedly killed her daughter, a Chicago police officer.

“I stand before you guys today as a mother, a heartbroken mother, a mother that’s full of anger, rage,” Mhoon told reporters.

Her 24-year-old daughter, Aréanah Preston, had been looking forward to graduating this weekend from Loyola University Chicago with a master’s degree in criminology — just a week from the day she was gunned down.

The family was looking forward to a big party to celebrate Preston’s and other family members’ academic accomplishments.

“Why?” Mhoon asked.

The same question worried another mother, Jaquanna Walker, whose 16-year-old son is the youngest of the four suspects charged with first-degree murder.

Her son, Jaylen Frazier, is still alive, but Walker said it feels like she has lost him as well.

“It’s almost as if he’s dead because his life is over at such a young age,” Walker said.

Each mother was left thinking of the other.

Mhoon told reporters she “felt sorry” for those accused of killing her daughter.

“As I sat in that courtroom today, the people I really felt sorry for was those boys,” Mhoon said. “I felt sorry for them because nobody, obviously, didn’t pour into them. Nobody told them you were loved, nobody told them you can do anything, like I constantly preach to my daughters.”

Walker said in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times that she attended a memorial Tuesday for Preston after leaving the police station to turn in her son.

“She did not deserve that,” Walker said. “I am very, very sorry about what happened.”

Walker said she believed she raised her son better than the accusations against him would indicate.

“I’ve always worked a full-time job,” she said. “No criminal background. We have a home. I’ve worked very hard, two jobs. I don’t know what the draw of the streets is about. I don’t understand.”

Before he was arrested, Frazier spoke with a friend about the shooting and said “it was his work,” according to Cook County prosecutors.

That stuck with Mhoon.

“Any time you can shoot somebody and say, ‘That was my work,’ what kind of human would say that about another human being?” Mhoon asked.

But Walker said her son did not brag to her about his role in the shooting.

“He told me, ‘Mom, I’ve never seen anybody die before,’ ” she said. “He just started to describe how he saw someone on the ground, how it happened so fast. He said it got out of hand.”

Walker said she asked her son whether he pulled the trigger.

“My concern was: Was he monster enough to pull a trigger on the young lady?” Walker said. “I wanted to know that. I asked my son that. I asked if he was the person who pulled the trigger. And he told me, no.

“And I was happy about that,” she said. “I don’t know how I would feel if he was the type of person who could take somebody’s life. He’s going to do time.”

According to prosecutors, Frazier was waiting inside the car when Preston was shot after having robbed other people at gunpoint earlier in the night.

“It’s crazy because, after turning my son in, I’m literally walking out of the police station into Areanah’s memorial,” Walker said. “If I didn’t have to pick up my other kids from school, I would have hugged the momma and given her my condolences, face to face.”

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