Young mom, her father found shot to death in East Chatham after 2-year-old answers call from concerned friends
Javonni Jenkins, 27, and Curtis Hardman, 79, were found Wednesday morning in her apartment. Her 2-year-old son did not appear to be injured.
When Javonni Jenkins didn’t show up for work at Holy Cross Hospital Wednesday, her co-workers tried calling her apartment in East Chatham.
Jenkins didn’t answer, neither did her father. But Jenkins’ 2-year-old son did answer their FaceTime call, and he appeared alone.
“After a certain amount of time, you realize nobody has come to check on the baby. You know nobody was talking to the baby,” said Nicole Worth, a co-worker of Jenkins. “I could see that he had no clothes on; he was just in a diaper. So now something’s wrong.”
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Worth said she called police and asked for a well-being check at the apartment in the 8100 block of South Drexel Avenue. Worth and other co-workers and friends were waiting when police arrived and forced their way in around 10:50 a.m.
Officers discovered the bodies of Jenkins and her father, Curtis Hardman, 79, police said. Both had been shot to death. The 2-year-old did not appear to be injured but was taken to a hospital to be checked.
“The whole time I had the baby on the phone, he was very content, playing with his toys,” Worth told reporters outside the building Wednesday night. “Once I had that baby on the phone, and after a certain amount of time of no parents calling the baby, you don’t hear that — there’s something wrong.
“We came a little too late,” she said. “We saved the baby. That’s all we could do.”
Chicago Police Deputy Chief Sonora Ben released few details of the shooting during a news conference. No one was in custody. Ben said the shooting appeared to be “an isolated incident” and “I don’t think the public should be concerned.”
Jenkins was a medical assistant at Holy Cross Hospital, according to her friends. Her mother died when she was a baby, and she was raised by her father, they said.
“That girl had a heart of gold,” Worth said. “She wore her heart on her sleeve. She had a smile that would light up a room. You never saw her down. You knew when something bothered her, but she didn’t speak much of it, but she’d just brush it away.”
Hardman’s daughter, Angela Brooks, told the Sun-Times he was the type of father “that every little girl dreamed of.”
Brooks said everyone who knew her father had nothing but kind things to say about him. “I never heard my father have an altercation, raise his voice or get upset,” Brooks said.
There was a large age difference between Brooks and her stepsister Jenkins, but the two became much closer once they were both older, she said.
“She loved being a mother,” Brooks said. “She was a beautiful individual.”
Brooks, who lives out of the state now, was working with Jenkins to make a surprise trip to see her father soon, bringing all his grandchildren and great-grandchildren together to take him out to a nice dinner.
The family says they have not been given any information on the circumstances of the attack.
But when Brooks heard the news she said there was one thing she knew for certain — “I know my father died protecting my little sister. He was a hero.”
Hardman’s son, also named Curtis Hardman, said his father was his most vocal supporter. “Curtis was never ashamed of telling me how much he loved me,” his son said. “For every graduation, from preschool to graduate school, he was always there.”
The elder Hardman’s ex-wife said he and Jenkins were very close, and he would babysit the 2-year-old while Jenkins went to work.
“He was a good-hearted person,” Cherry Hardman said. “He would help anybody. I could call him and say, ‘Curtis could you come and do this for me,’ and he’d say, ‘OK give me a minute.’ He helped anybody.”
Though they were no longer together, Cherry Hardman said she and her ex remained close friends, living just blocks from each other and keeping in close contact.
“It’s just devastating to me,” Cherry Hardman said. “He didn’t mess with anybody. He was always in the house. I don’t understand how someone could get in and do all of that.”