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Homeless woman beaten to death while sheltering in Evanston church doorway

Police were investigating after a person was found dead at First United Methodist Church in Evanston. | Evanston police

A woman whose body was found Monday morning at a church in north suburban Evanston was beaten to death, officials have determined.

Tanuel Major, 49, was found dead shortly before noon in an alcove of First United Methodist Church at 516 Church Street, according to Evanston Police Cmdr. Ryan Glew and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

An autopsy Tuesday determined she suffered blunt-force injuries to her head and her death was ruled a homicide. Major lived in the Englewood neighborhood.

Investigators believe she sought shelter in the alcove for the night and was attacked and beaten there with an object, according to Glew. She had been dead for “quite some time,” possibly up to 24 hours, by the time she was found.

Detectives planned to canvas the neighborhood for a second time on Tuesday night, Glew said.

She was homeless at the time of her death and had no affiliation with nearby Northwestern University, Glew said. So far, detectives have not been able to locate her family.

Major’s body was reported by a passerby who noticed her in the alcove early Monday morning and then saw she was still there about 11:30 a.m.

Glew said the death appeared to be an isolated incident and said there was no threat to the public.

Anyone with information was asked to contact Evanston police at (847) 866-5000.