Police officer Hester Scott made a simple vow to friends and relatives who questioned the wisdom of continuing to raise a troubled grandson who’d caused her so much grief.
“I’ll fight till my dying breath to turn his life around,” she told her sister Marlene Thursday night.
Less than 24 hours later, prosecutors say, that promise had become a chilling prophecy.
Caught on Friday by Scott skipping school asleep in front of the TV in her basement in the 8800 block of South Wallace, 15-year-old Keshawn Perkins erupted in a rage, smashing her repeatedly in the head with a lamp, then stabbing her multiple times with a kitchen knife, severing her jugular, it’s alleged.
He wrapped his 55-year-old grandmother’s dead body in a blanket, dragged it into the back yard and was spotted fleeing her home, covered in blood, carrying her purse, prosecutors said.
Arrested soon after, he told detectives Scott had been yelling at him for skipping class at Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep so he “hit her with the lamp until she shut up,” it’s alleged. Two bloody kitchen knifes were recovered from the basement and Perkins told police where he’d dumped the body and hidden his bloody clothes, prosecutors said.
Wearing a Juvenile Detention Center T-shirt and gray sweatpants in court Sunday morning, an expressionless Perkins was told he faces adult charges of first-degree murder and armed robbery.
His family was not in court to hear Cook County Judge James Brown deny him bail, or to hear prosecutors warn that he faces a minimum sentence of life imprisonment if convicted of murdering a police officer.
Instead they gathered at his great uncle’s home in Auburn-Gresham to mourn the woman they said had devoted her life to him and his three siblings.
Scott – a mother of two – had adopted Keshawn and his siblings seven years ago after her drug-addicted daughter could no longer care for them and they were taken into foster care, they said.
“Hester felt so bad about what had happened to her daughter and she was determined to do everything she could for the grandchildren,” her sister said.
Scott borrowed money to build an expensive addition to her home to house the four children and lavished love and attention on them, fellow officer and friend Gloria Allen said.
As a proud police officer who’d worked closely with juvenile delinquents, Scott had a special and sympathetic understanding of the difficulties faced by the families of troubled youth, Allen said.
But her world collapsed when a mentally ill Keshawn accused her of abuse in August 2007, relatives said. Though the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services eventually dismissed the allegations, the children were taken out of her care for several months, and she was stripped of her police powers pending an investigation by the Independent Police Review Authority, they said.
Four years later, she was still doing desk duty, had not had her gun or star returned to her, and was “living under a cloud” they said, urging IPRA to close it’s investigation and the department to posthumously restore Scott’s police powers so that she can be buried with her reputation intact.
DCFS spokesman Kendall Marlowe said that Illinois law prevents him from discussing the history of any investigation into Scott and Perkins “out of respect for the accused minor.”
But Chicago Police spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton confirmed that Scott had been stripped of her police powers. She referred all questions to IPRA, where general counsel Eric Muellenbach said no details on the case were immediately available Sunday.
As the investigation dragged on, threats, violent outbursts and a strong emotional attachment to his convicted felon father had seen Keshawn run away from home at least twice, his uncle Kevin Scott said.
Relatives – including Scott’s brother Theodore – and friends were fearful for Scott’s safety and had urged her to have Keshawn, who’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, permanently institutionalized. Just weeks ago, he’d made a fresh allegation against her, accusing her of threatening him at gunpoint, they said – an allegation her family considers absurd.
Despite all the difficulties, Scott strongly felt that looking after Keshawn and his siblings “was what God put her on this earth to do,” her sister said.
“The only thing she loved more than being a police officer was those children and if someone suggested putting Keshawn in care, she’d say, ‘That’s my grandson – who else can take care of him?’
“We haven’t just lost her, we’ve lost him, too.”
Allen added, “I was one of those who said, ‘You have to give up the kid,’ but she would not hear it. She loved that boy.”