Sunday is Daisy Hayes’ 66th birthday.
But instead of a celebration, there will be a vigil. Hayes was last seen May 1 going into the Chicago Housing Authority’s Kendall Campbell Apartments, the senior building where she lived at 6360 S. Minerva in Woodlawn.
After a missing person’s investigation that dragged on, the police issued a warrant for the arrest of James Jackson, Smith’s boyfriend, believed to have killed the woman and then disposed of her body in a landfill near Monticello, Indiana.
On Friday afternoon, authorities said Jackson, who lived in the same CHA building, has been arrested in Memphis and is being charged with murder.
But there has been no effort to retrieve Hayes’ body,
“I was told her body is in a landfill and that there wasn’t any money or manpower to get the body because it would cost millions of dollars, and it would be like looking for a certain needle in a pile of needles,” said Teresa Smith, Hayes’ daughter.
Anthony Guglielmi, chief spokesman for the Chicago Police Department, said the police “do have information” to suggest the body “might be” in a Monticello landfill.
“Did we search the landfill for that body?” Guglielmi said. “No, we did not.”
He said police first wanted to find Jackson, “so we can begin an interrogation.”
No one saw the 85-pound Hayes leave her building. Smith had long suspected her mother’s boyfriend because he moved out of the building immediately after Hayes’ disappearance.
But the daughter said she hasn’t gotten any help from law enforcement in her effort to do what’s now most important to her: recover her mother’s remains.
Prosecutors told the family the responsibility to search for the body is the responsibility of the investigating agency.
“In this case, it would be the Chicago Police Department,” said Tandra Simonton, a spokesman for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. “We are moving forward with the case, and we don’t need a body to prosecute.”
I called the Monticello police to find out whether the Chicago police ever reached out about the tip that Hayes’ body is in a landfill.
“There is no landfill in the city limits of Monticello that we would have gotten calls from the Chicago Police Department,” Chief Randy Soliday told me.
At least two waste disposal companies and one landfill on the outskirts of Monticello use that town’s postal address.
Smith thinks this case would have been handled differently if her mother were not black.
“If she was a white girl or white woman, they would have done everything in their power to go and get the remains,” Smith said.
Guglielmi said Hayes’ race did not factor into the department’s decision not to search the landfill.
“Unfortunately, we are in that sensitive time frame that saying anything about the location of the body and how it was disposed of could compromise the interrogation,” he said.
That is cold comfort to Smith.
“They just want to get the guy in custody,” Smith said. “I’m saying I still need her body for closure, and no one is listening to that. I want to give her a proper memorial.”
You can’t blame her for feeling the way she does.
When Stacy Peterson disappeared from her Bolingbrook home in 2007, that suburb was flooded with search teams, including the all-volunteer Texas EquuSearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team, equipped with search dogs and an aerial drone.
Drew Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police officer, was widely believed to have killed Peterson, his fourth wife, but has never been charged with that. He is currently serving 38 years in prison for the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.
In 2013, the Illinois State Police were still actively conducting searches for Peterson’s body. based on tips. As recently as March 2018, Stacy Peterson’s sister Cassandra Cales was soliciting money on social media to help recover Stacy Peterson’s remains.
“Why is it different with us as blacks?” Smith said. “It is really horrible. They need to be in my shoes and see how they would feel if it were their mother or sister.”
On Tuesday, the grass-roots advocacy organization KOCO plans to go to City Hall to push for a search of the Indiana landfill a tipster identified.
“The city needs to bring the resources to recover [Hayes’] body” said Shannon Bennett, KOCO’s deputy director. “If this were Stacy Peterson and other folks, the search teams and the police resources would have been dedicated. We don’t see it being done for black families.”