Friends, family, search for answers in murders of “sweet lady” and her 5-year-old son

By John Carpenter and Mallory Morales
Homicide Watch Chicago

A brutal double murder in the Back of the Yards has friends and family members scratching their heads, wondering who would kill “a nice young woman” and her 5-year-old son.

Police were called to the apartment in the 5300 block of S. Winchester early Friday morning, where they found 31-year-old Chavonne Brown dead, along with her 5-year-old son, Sterling Sims. Both had been shot.

No one was in custody as of Friday afternoon, and police are releasing few details about the homicide.

Brown also had an older son. According to one published report, he is 12, was in the apartment at the time of the shooting and is the person who called police. Michael Sullivan, a Chicago Police Department spokesman, said he could not confirm this.

Also living in the apartment was Brown’s boyfriend who, according to several neighbors, was at work at the time of the shooting.

A man who emerged from the apartment late Friday morning said he believed the motive was robbery.
“Some little dude just went in and shot her,” said the man, who said he was a friend of the family but declined to give his name.

The man said Brown was returning home after dropping her boyfriend off at work. He believes the alleged shooter saw her walking in and followed her, intending to rob her.

Tom Green, who lives in an apartment in the same building, confirmed that the boyfriend works a third-shift job. He said Chavonne and her boyfriend were “just a struggling couple trying to get their lives together.”

“She was a mother, just engaged in trying to raise her kids as best she could,” Green said. “She was a very nice young lady.”

Green, who said he works an overnight shift at a nearby meat packing facility, arrived home several hours after the murders. He said he had no idea what the motive may have been.

“There are so many different squabbles in this area,” he said. “This is a bad area.”

A woman who identified herself as Brown’s mother declined to comment as she walked into the apartment building. A woman who was with her, who said she was Brown’s first cousin, said the family is devastated.

“She was such a sweet and giving person who always had a smile on her face,”
the woman, who declined to give her name, said. She added that Sims was an “outspoken little boy. He was very smart. He and my son used to play together.”

Juan Arzate lives in the house next to Brown’s apartment building. He said he was shocked when woke up to all the police activity.

“When I hear it, I was stunned,” said Arzate, with help from an interpreter. “She is all the time talking good with me.”

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