CHICAGO – Police said Thursday they think more than one person carried out the slayings of five people found dead Wednesday afternoon inside a ransacked house on Chicago’s South Side.
Authorities have not identified any suspects or determined a motive, but police are confident the killings were not a random act, said Chicago Police Commander Eddie Welch.
“They were definitely targeted,” he said at a news conference Thursday afternoon at police headquarters.
Further, he said it was obvious that whoever carried out the crime spent a lot of time in the house.
“There was a lot of damage to this residence, at all levels of this residence,” Welch said.
Police comments on Wednesday that neighbors should not be concerned that a killer or killers were on the loose led to speculation that the crime was a murder-suicide, but Welch said police do not believe that’s the case.
Authorities are following up a host of leads and have not ruled out any motive, including whether the slayings were or were not gang related, officials said.
Family members have not entered the house to let authorities know if anything was stolen, Welch said.
“The bottom line is we need the community’s help,” said Deputy Superintendent Steven Peterson.
Investigators believe all the victims, young adults, knew each other. Their bodies were all found on the main level of the residence. Police also said there may have been a party the day before and they are trying to talk to people who were at the house.
The five victims are Lakesha Boss, Whitney Flowers, Donovan Richardson, Reginald Walker and Anthony Scales, the Cook County medical examiner’s office said. No ages for the victims were available Thursday afternoon.
The slayings came to light at about 3:45 Wednesday afternoon when a woman trying to visit the house found the bodies. The house appeared to have been ransacked, and there were signs of forced entry, police said.
The killings come at a time of heightened concern in the city about a recent spate of gun violence. The five deaths brought to 15 the number of people who have been shot to death in Chicago in less than a week.
In the days before the discovery of the bodies, more than three dozen people were shot. Many of those shootings were gang-related, particularly those that occurred between Friday night and Sunday — leading to growing concern of more bloodshed as the weather gets warmer and more and more people are outdoors.
Police have increased patrols and deployed SWAT officers in a show of force aimed at heading off more violence. They have also beefed up their presence in and around schools in the wake of the shooting deaths of more than 20 Chicago public school students.
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley told The Associated Press Thursday he plans to meet Friday with more than two dozen officials from religious groups, police, schools and social service agencies to talk about what’s causing the violence and how to stop it.
“We’re just going to say, ’OK, what is it? What are we really missing?”’ he said.
Daley, a strong proponent of gun control, says people are settling their differences with guns and access to weapons is the problem.
“You have people having too many guns,” he said.
But the mayor added he doesn’t believe the recent violence is tarnishing Chicago’s reputation.
“Violence is all over,” he said.
Also on Thursday, police announced that a 29-year-old man has been charged in the April 4 slayings of a police lieutenant, his wife and son.
Vennis McCall is charged with first-degree murder in the slayings of Allen McCullough, 46; his wife, Danna McCullough, 46; and Allen Jr., 19.
Each was shot in the back of the head and covered with blankets in their home.
McCall and the elder McCullough got into an argument “about money and food and house rules,” when McCall struck McCullough with a blunt object, said Police Commander Patricia Walsh.
She said he shot McCullough with McCullough’s own handgun and then shot Danna McCullough. McCall told investigators he tried to clean the house and covered the bodies “because he did not want to look at the victims,” Walsh said.
He told detectives he waited on the couch for the younger McCullough to get home. When young man arrived, McCall told investigators he tried to explain what had happened but when McCullough “did not accept his explanation, he was also shot.”
McCall hid in various places in the neighborhood until he was arrested Wednesday, Walsh said.