Boy, 15, charged with fatally beating 74-year-old man then burning his body on South Side: ‘No one deserves to die like that’

A niece of the victim, Earl Miller, called her uncle “an old school” guy who kept to himself and enjoyed taking long walks downtown. Braxton Usher also said her uncle won a Catholic Youth Organization boxing championshiop.

SHARE Boy, 15, charged with fatally beating 74-year-old man then burning his body on South Side: ‘No one deserves to die like that’
A Chicago police car.

Charges have been filed in a Sept. 22 murder in Fernwood.

Sun-Times file photo

A 15-year-old boy has been charged with participating in the fatal beating of a 74-year-old man whose burned body was found in September on the South Side.

The teen, whose name has not been released because he’s being tried as a juvenile, faces a count of first-degree murder and concealment of homicidal death in the Fernwood murder, Chicago police said Thursday.

The victim, Earl Miller, was beaten with a baseball bat and found burned next to a home Sept. 22 in the 200 block of West 103rd Street, authorities said. An autopsy revealed he died of multiple injuries from an assault.

Braxton Usher, Miller’s niece, told the Sun-Times her family is just relieved “his case isn’t going unnoticed.”

“No one deserves to die like that at all. ... I wonder how he was feeling or I wonder what he was thinking,” Usher said. “Stuff like that, it eats at you.”

Earl Miller boxed in Catholic Youth Organization events, then worked as a city truck driver, his niece Braxton Usher said. Miller’s body was found Sept. 22; he had been beaten and burned.

Earl Miller boxed in Catholic Youth Organization events, then worked as a city truck driver, his niece Braxton Usher said. He was “an old school” guy who kept to himself and enjoyed taking long walks downtown in his later days, Usher said. Miller’s body was found Sept. 22; he had been beaten and burned.

Provided

The teen was arrested Wednesday on the Near West Side, police announced in a news release. At an initial hearing Thursday, he was ordered to remain in custody, according to Tandra Simonton, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

Police released surveillance photos in November in an attempt to identify two suspects in the case. The videos showed a man inside a convenience store and younger person walking outside.

“Knowing that it was kids, it just doesn’t make sense to me,” said Usher, who now wears some of her uncle’s ashes around her neck as a keepsake.

Usher said her uncle had played a critical role in her life since she was young.

She and Miller previously lived together in Indiana with her children but all of them, Miller included, were staying with her father in Morgan Park at the time of her uncle’s death.

She’s now having a hard time answering when her kids ask, “Where is Uncle Earl?”

“Me not being able to give them that answer, it just hurts as well,” she noted.

Usher said Miller won a championship fighting in a Catholic Youth Organization boxing tournament and later worked as a city truck driver. He was “an old school” guy who kept to himself and enjoyed taking long walks downtown in his later days, Usher said.

Usher also conceded her uncle enjoyed the occasional cold beer and liked to play the slots.

“He brought New Year’s in at the casino,” she said with a chuckle.

While Wednesday’s arrest brought Usher’s family some hope, the other suspect pictured in the surveillance footage circulated by police remains on the loose. Usher said the detective working the case reached out to the family after the arrest, saying the teen in custody was giving investigators “more information.”

After holding a memorial in October that doubled as a birthday party for her father, Usher said she was just happy her uncle is now “at peace with his mother,” who passed away years ago.

“He definitely was a momma’s boy,” she noted.

Meanwhile, Simonton said the 15-year-old’s next court date was set for Dec. 21.

A spokesperson for the Cook County public defender’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Police asked anyone with tips on the case to call detectives at 312-747-8271.

Read more oncrime, and track the city’shomicides.

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