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Chicago police take fresh look at unsolved slayings of 55 women — and the possibility of a serial killer

Annie Sweeney, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

"It is getting the attention it deserves," Deenihan said in a telephone interview.

Deenihan said no evidence yet exists that any of the women died at the hands of one or more serial killers, but he conceded that such links still might be found.

"We are going to review all of these," he said. "We don't know where it is going. At first glance, we don't have a serial killer. ... I think you may find some connections."

Police have already ruled out, though, any links among the 21 deaths in which DNA evidence has already been tested.

The Tribune analysis last year found clusters of strangulations around Washington Park on the South Side and Garfield Park on the West Side, the potential work of serial killers. Two women were strangled and left in burning trash bins over two days in November 2007.

The latest victims were discovered between May and September 2018. All four were found outdoors on the South or West sides; the bodies of two were discovered about two miles from each other.

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Three died by strangulation, according to the Cook County medical examiner. The fourth woman, whose body was found inside a garbage can, possibly died from "homicide by asphyxiation," the medical examiner reported.

While the shooting deaths of young men in Chicago dominate headlines, the strangulations of so many women over the last nearly 20 years had gone by with relatively little notice, a chilling reminder of how women with often high-risk lifestyles can be targeted.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, the Police Department had responded to the strangulations of dozens of women by creating a task force that led to the arrest and conviction of several suspects, including some serial killers.

The task force, however, was eventually disbanded even as the attacks continued at a steady pace.

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