CHICAGO—The brutal killing of 81-year-old Thana Muhammad in her home of 40 years drew anger, shock and calls for community involvement and healing to help solve the heinous murder.
A $5,000 cash reward has been offered and her daughter said a dialogue is necessary so “we can feel safe” and “not be deprived of our family.” Her daughter, longtime activist Ashanti Chimurenga, said, “My mother had a right to be safe.”
If you know something you have a moral obligation to come forward, she added.
Ms. Chimurenga, flanked and surrounded by the Nation of Islam’s Fruit of Islam from Mosque Maryam, vowed to walk the streets of the city to seek justice for her mother. Police said there was plenty of blood in the basement and someone cleaned it up, said family members. The dismembered body was found in two bins.
Despite the personal pain, the problem is not just my mother’s death, said Ms. Chimaranga. My mother was found in garbage bins but Black youths leave us in boxes, she said. The family stressed their love and commitment to the Black community and unwillingness to simply be victims.
“You don’t have to be necessarily involved in what happened to know something,” said Camille Durham, who cited the family history of activism and involvement in the Black community. She does criminal defense work for indigent defendants, her mother has taught inmates and children and advocated for death row inmates, her uncle was the late Chicago alderman Michael Chandler and another family member served on the police force.
“We love our community,” said Ms. Durham. My grandmother was a Muslim and died during Ramadan, she added. “I know she hollered out for Allah and I know he reached his hand out to her, I’m ok with that,” she said. But, she added, it’s not okay for someone to die in a home of 40 years.
“We should be very afraid,” said Ms. Durham. “People are losing their humanity and we have to get it back.”
Thana Muhammad came to Chicago from Arkansas with her parents, who were homeowners and business owners and started a legacy of service, said her granddaughter.
Born Mattie Jean Chandler, she was a devout Muslim since the 1970s, joining the Nation of Islam under the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, said Ms. Durham. Her grandmother spent over 40 years in the health profession as a radiologist, owned a restaurant during the 1970s and was a building rehabber, said Ms. Durham. “She (Ms. Muhammad) gave property to people sometimes who she knew wouldn’t pay. But she had a soft spot for people in the community,” said the granddaughter.
Family stressed their determination that the beautiful life and legacy of Thana Muhammad would not be murder victim. They described her as active, strong, charitable, loving and living life on her own terms, with ties on the South Side and the West Side of Chicago. “Those that nobody else would help, she was right there,” said her niece. “She was so much bigger than the tragedy that took her life.”
Ms. Muhammad was robbed two and a half weeks after returning to the home. Whoever committed this murder is a “monster,” who needs help, said her granddaughter. “You should be very afraid,” said Ms. Durham.
Something small could be important, just share the information, said family members.
The elderly woman’s remains were found after a real estate agent was unable to reach Ms. Muhammad, came to the house, noticed a foul odor and called police.
A police spokesman said much effort was put into this “horrific act.” Authorities believe Ms. Muhammad was killed in her home.
The death occurred on the Far South Side of the city, near 100th and Forest Avenue in the city’s Rosemoor neighborhood. There is an email address, JusticeForThana@gmail.com, and a Justice For Thana Facebook page where information can be shared. Family members can be reached at 224-678-5001. Voicemail messages should be left if the phone is not answered. If leery of talking to police, call the family, said Ms. Muhammad’s loved ones.
Ms. Muhammad’s silver 2012 four-door Honda Accord and her purse were stolen. The vehicle’s license plate No. is R881876. It was found on Chicago’s West Side in the Lawndale neighborhood. “Help us, help yourself, help the city,” her granddaughter pleaded.
Anyone with information is urged to call Area South Detectives at 312-747-8271.