With case unsolved, family searches for closure
Slain woman's family seeks closure, justice
By Tara Malone, Tribune staff reporter
November 26, 2007
Stuffed animals, rose bouquets and blue signs reading "It's a boy!" ringed a tree in the dusty abandoned lot Sunday, reminding nearly four dozen family and friends who gathered in the cold of their double loss here earlier this month.Theresa Bunn, 21 -- eight months' pregnant with her first child, a son relatives said she planned to name Michael Pierre Terry Bunn -- was found strangled and burned in a garbage bin nearly two weeks ago along the 6100 block of South Prairie Avenue, the first of two women killed in a similarly grisly manner near Washington Park this month.Bunn's killer remains at large. Chicago police officials continue to investigate the slayings of Bunn and Hazel Lewis, 52, who was found strangled and burned Nov. 14 in another trash bin behind an elementary school near her home. Investigators have not found evidence linking the two slayings, Officer John Henry said Sunday.
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Because Bunn's body was so badly burned that it was identified only through dental records, her family decided to forgo a formal funeral and instead hold a vigil where Bunn's charred remains were found. They came searching for some sense of closure."To me, this is her last place," said Anthony McCray, Bunn's father. "It shouldn't be here. They took our baby and burned her like she was garbage."Many extended condolences to Lewis' family, saying they know too well the grief the Bronzeville woman's relatives must feel.
The vigil came a day after Bunn's memorial service, and relatives, friends and neighbors laid flowers, a music box topped with a ballerina and nearly two dozen stuffed bears around a tree in the center of the lot. Some wore T-shirts emblazoned with a picture of Bunn smiling. Others paused before a framed, poster-size picture that, like a tombstone, listed her full name -- Theresa Marie Bunn -- and the dates of her birth and death. Many carried balloons that they let loose together, with red and blue filling the sky."That's Theresa's tree from here on out," said Bunn's cousin Chris Hogan, who wore a T-shirt that on the back read, "Rest in Peace, Baby Boy Mike."Photographs from her days at Englewood High School are stored away, McCray said, unable to offer any comfort yet. Her bedroom remains untouched. Her 19-year-old brother, also named Anthony McCray, still comes home expecting to gab with his sister, the eldest of five siblings, whom friends remember as quick to lift everyone's spirits. Bunn's youngest brother, Michael, 14, for whom she planned to name her son, tries to escape the reminder of her loss in his schoolwork.
Until Bunn's assailant is arrested, charged and put behind bars, relatives said, any closure will remain elusive."This didn't even ease the pain," said Rose Marie Williams, Bunn's aunt. "We were expecting a baby next month and we don't have [anything]."Bunn's son would have been the family's first grandchild, McCray said.Police said Bunn was last seen Nov. 12. She told family members she was going shopping either in Chicago or Evergreen Park. Her mother worried that a mental condition she had might have left her confused.
Bunn's body was discovered just before midnight that day.Her relatives urge anyone who might have seen or heard anything suspicious to contact police. Apartment buildings surround the lot."This time it's our daughter. But it could be your daughter, your niece, your mother," McCray said."We, as a community, need to help each other."Tribune staff reporter Megan Twohey contributed to this report