Juvenile arrested in murder of 70-year-old woman in Hegewisch

Yvonne Ruzich — known by family as “Grandma Jo” — was parked outside the store where she worked when two gunmen approached her car and started shooting earlier this month.

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Family and friends gather at a vigil for Yvonne Ruzich outside Baltimore Food & Liquor Store in Hegewisch, Aug. 16, 2021. Ruzich was shot and killed earlier that morning there before her shift.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Chicago police announced Friday they arrested a juvenile suspect tied to the murder of a 70-year-old woman in Hegewisch and said another young gunman involved in the deadly shooting remains at large.

Tipsters helped police identify the two minors, who shot Yvonne Ruzich as she sat in her parked car while she chatted with her stepson before reporting for her shift at Baltimore Food & Liquor on the morning of Aug. 16, Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said at a news conference at CPD headquarters.

Surveillance video showed Ruzich chatting with her stepson, who was also in his car, when the male suspects approached from behind Ruzich’s vehicle around 4:30 a.m. and allegedly opened fire.

Ruzich, who was known in the Far South Side neighborhood as “Grandma Jo,” drove away in the 13300 block of South Baltimore Avenue before crashing, Deenihan said.

After shooting at Ruzich’s car, the suspects got back into their car, drove up to Ruzich’s crashed vehicle and fired several more shots before driving off, Deenihan said.

Ruzich regularly arrived early at work, and her stepson would follow her to make sure she arrived safely, Deenihan said.

The stepson spotted the suspects pulling up and shouted to Ruzich to drive away.

Deenihan did not know the motive for the murder but pointed out the suspects were in a stolen car and are believed to have been involved in multiple carjackings in the hours before the shooting. Investigators eventually tracked down four stolen cars that may be connected to the suspects, Deenihan said. One was recovered in Indiana.

“What’s going through their mind, they’re walking up and they want to take this car, and she drives away, and that quickly, they decide to fire,” Deenihan said. “There wasn’t a lot of interaction there, but that just shows how emboldened they are and how quick they are to discharge a firearm.”

After the murder, several witnesses came forward and were able to identify the two shooters in the surveillance video, Deenihan said.

The juvenile in custody has not given a statement to police, Deenihan said. He is expected to be charged as an adult with first-degree murder, Deenihan said.

One suspect wore all-black clothing and a black face mask during the shooting, police said. The other gunman wore a light-colored hooded sweatshirt, light pants with black shoes with white soles and a light-colored face mask. Deenihan declined to say which of the two suspects was in custody.

Ruzich had retired after working for the city Streets & Sanitation Department for 25 years. She usually beat her boss to work during the years she worked at Baltimore Food & Liquor, Deenihan said.

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