Motive in ambush killings of 2 moms remains a mystery even after 2nd man charged
Kevin Brown and Makavelle Sampson are accused of shooting Juliet Washington and Jeanine Dowell in June 2017, but authorities have yet to say why they think the women were targeted.
On a stormy summer night in 2017, Juliet Washington and Jeanine Dowell were sitting in an SUV at a red light in the Washington Park neighborhood on the South Side when both were shot multiple times in an ambush-style attack.
As their SUV rolled onto a sidewalk, the two shooters got back in their car and drove away.
Washington, 41, of suburban Woodridge, was a mother of two who worked as a mail carrier. Dowell, 32, of Roseland, was a mother of three, whose daughter nicknamed her “Ms MakeItHappen,” for her dedication to her family and making sure her family’s needs were met.
2 charged, but motive remains a mystery
Late last week, the alleged second gunman in the heinous crime, 24-year-old Kevin Brown, was charged with murder and denied bail during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.
Brown’s alleged accomplice, 22-year-old Makavelle Sampson, pleaded not guilty in February last year to 12 felony counts, including murder, in the case, court records show.
Prosecutors allege that about 10:30 p.m. June 28, 2017, Brown and Sampson pulled up in a stolen gray sedan behind Washington’s stopped SUV at Wabash Avenue and Garfield Boulevard, then got out of the car and approached the SUV on foot with handguns.
For roughly 15 seconds, Sampson fired 14 times at the driver’s window where Washington sat, and Brown fired eight times at Dowell, who was in the front passenger seat, prosecutors said.
‘I felt like I could finally breathe again’
Washington’s oldest daughter, who asked that her name be withheld, said she felt a sense of relief flood through her when she learned a second person was finally in custody.
“I felt like I could finally breathe again,” she said. “Walking around, it was like I didn’t know if they could be standing right next to me.”
When news of Washington’s murder spread to the Westmont Post Office where she had worked for 17 years, her coworkers were devastated, the branch’s postmaster, Shenita Robinson, said.
“She was a great person,” Robinson said. “It was tragic what happened, and it was a very big hit for every employee.”
On the day of her funerals, employees from other branches came in to help keep the branch running so that Washington’s coworkers could attend.
Stepping up in a time of need would have been something Washington would have done, her family said.
“She was a hardworking person, but also she was good-hearted,” Washington’s father, Alfred Pollard, 76, said. “She was really a person that would help anyone. She just would.”
On the night she was killed, Washington had spent the day with her two daughters in the city at the apartment of her eldest, who was in college at the time, making cabbage and macaroni and cheese together.
“It was my favorite meal, and she came to cook for me,” her daughter said. “I had just gotten a new camera and I was taking pictures of her with it. We had a good time.”
Washington left and went to go pick up Dowell. The two women were longtime friends, having grown up on the same block less than a five-minute walk from where they were killed. As they’d grown older, they had also grown closer, Washington’s daughter said.
Washington called later to tell her oldest daughter she was on her way back to pick up her youngest. It was the last time they spoke.
“My aunt called me and said, ‘I don’t know what happened, but I think your mother got shot,” Washington’s daughter said. “I was baffled. I was in shock.”
Tracking the killers
A driver who was across the intersection and witnessed the shooting followed the gray sedan for a half-mile to an apartment building, where he directed officers to the car less than two minutes after the shooting, prosecutors said.
DNA recovered from a passenger-side door was later matched to Brown, while fingerprints recovered from the door on the driver’s side matched Sampson, prosecutors said. There is also surveillance footage and witness statements allegedly implicating the men.
To date, neither Chicago police nor Cook County prosecutors have offered a possible motive for the crime.
“We have overwhelming evidence to prove the murder but no motive was given to us by the defendant,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said of the charges against Brown.
At a hearing for Sampson, prosecutors said that in the hours before and after the murders he made 15 calls to a person who faced a charge of aggravated battery against Dowell. That person, who was not identified, was ultimately convicted in the case after her death, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors declined to comment further.