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Alsip woman remembered as police continue search for killer 12 years later

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Updated: September 5, 2014 6:16AM



About 1:30 p.m. Sunday, 12 years to the hour after their mother last spoke with Jennifer Boyd on the phone before Boyd was brutally murdered, Rebecca Hernandez led a crowd of more than 60 mourners in a balloon launch in remembrance of her sister.

More than nine dozen pink balloons were released into the skies over the Public Storage facility at 6990 W. 79th St., Bedford Park, where the 27-year-old Boyd was stabbed and left to bleed to death inside a locker on Aug. 3, 2002.

“Even though today is a celebration of Jenny’s life, it can’t go without being said that the monsters responsible for (her) death freely walk the streets,” Hernandez said. “Their lives still go on as normal while ours have forever changed.

“After all these years we still hold out hope that individuals are going to be caught and brought to justice,” she said. “Jenny deserves this, and so do we.”

The slaying marked the first murder for the village of Bedford Park. While police have yet to apprehend her killer or killers, Hernandez and her mother, Susan Boyd, are encouraged that the case is being given a fresh look.

Last year, Detective Andy Smuskiewicz and another investigator, both of whom were new to the case, began treating the murder as if it were fresh.

“We are working several leads,” Smuskiewicz said. “It’s definitely a horrible, brutal crime. We’ve been looking at it pretty heavily.

“We could fill a room (with files of information) on this case alone,” he said.

On that fateful day, Susan Boyd, of Alsip, talked with her youngest daughter over the phone about 1:30 p.m. about playing Bingo that evening with Jennifer’s grandmother.

“I told her, ‘I’ll talk to you later,’ ” Susan Boyd said. “But I never got the chance.”

The suspected killer — a light-skinned black male between ages 35 and 40 with wire-rimmed glasses, apparently posing as a customer — visited Boyd later that afternoon. A “back in a few minutes” clock sign left in the property manager’s office window indicated Jennifer would be back at 3:30, Susan Boyd said.

The man stabbed her repeatedly, stole her keys and left her for dead inside the locker. For up to two hours she had cried for help, banging on the door of the locker.

Someone in the facility heard banging and calls for help and notified authorities. But by the time the Bedford Park Fire Department broke into the locker, Boyd was dead.

Public Storage continues to offer a $25,000 reward for information leading to the killer’s capture.

The dozen years that have passed have done little to heal the hurt left by her sister’s slaying, Hernandez said.

“She was my only sibling,” Hernandez said. “It’s been very hard. I don’t understand people who say, ‘Time heals all wounds,’ because my heart hurts more now than ever.”

Hernandez described her sister as the life of the party, always in pursuit of a good time.

“She was very caring. She lived with my mom and grandma and helped take care of my grandma,” Hernandez said. “I want justice but it’s not going to fill the hole in my heart.”

Kristin Morris, of Tinley Park, went to Mount Assisi High School and then Lewis University with Jennifer.

“She was so much fun. I just miss her,” Morris said, while waiting for the balloon launch. “She had a great sense of humor.”

Kathy Potoski, of Mokena, worked with Jennifer at Sportmart when they were teens.

“She was quirky, totally offbeat,” Potoski said. Regarding the ongoing investigation, she said, “You have to remain hopeful.”

At the time of her daughter’s death, Susan Boyd was also an employee of Public Storage, working at the company’s Merrionette Park facility. She helped Jennifer get the property manager job, which was supposed to be interim work until the recent college graduate could find something in child psychology, her chosen field.

Susan Boyd said her daughter understood that at times she’d be working alone, “but she wasn’t afraid. I remember one time she said, ‘There’s nothing in that place that’s worth my life.’ ”

After Jennifer’s death, Susan Boyd said she tried to return to work but just couldn’t. Jennifer’s grandmother, Lillian Rice, died less than two years later.

“She died of a broken heart, I just know it,” Susan Boyd said.

Doug Rice, Jennifer’s uncle, gave a short speech before the launch.

“I can remember an 11-month-old baby sitting in her high chair at my mom and dad’s house screaming and crying because she was teething. So you did what you could in those days — I poured a shot of ouzo and started rubbing her gums,” Rice said. “I turned my back and all of sudden I heard this ‘cough, cough.’ I turned around and here’s Jenny’s eyes just batting away a hundred miles an hour and the shot glass is empty. Told me right there we had a party animal in the making.

“Twelve years ago today a light was extinguished, a light that will glow again when we have justice for Jen,” he said.

Smuskiewicz said a sketch of the suspect is still available, but he reminds people that it is 12 years old.

Anyone with information regarding the case is urged to call Bedford Park Police on a secure phone line at (708) 458-3388, Ext. 314 or 313. Tips also can be submitted via the department’s website at www.villageofbedfordpark.com.



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