Woman given run-around after son murdered in her car

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The ABC7 I-Team investigates what happened to a Chicago woman's car after her son was murdered in it. (WLS)

ABC7 I-Team Investigation
The ABC7 I-Team investigates what happened to a Chicago woman's car after her son was murdered in it.

It was a big news story during the holidays: Joseph Graves, 19, was on break from Northern Illinois University when he was shot and killed while driving his mother's car.

His family said they have been taken for a ride. Six weeks after the murder they were told the car had been "disposed of."

"I just wanted to be able to process the whole thing with looking to see this is where my baby was sitting in that spot, like he was here, you know, this is where his soul left," said Latanda Graves, Joseph's mother.

Joseph Graves was a sophomore studying business at NIU and home just one day for winter break when he was killed. Police believe his shooter was after somebody else in the car.

Two days before Joseph's funeral, the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation sent a letter stating that her car would be disposed of if it was not picked up within 15 days.

"Because if I'm still in contact with the detectives and he's telling me wait I'll let you know when your car is ready why would I think that meant anything, what they sent," Graves said.

One of the case detectives called her a month and a half after her son's murder, leaving a voicemail which she still has.

The voicemail on January 22 said: "The car is ready for someone to pick it up... it's got your name on the release."

So Graves went to the Chicago Auto Pound 2 on the South Side to pick up her 2002 Ford but was told the car had been disposed of on Jan. 8 - two weeks before Chicago police told her it could be released.

"I couldn't believe it, because I'm like 'Where's the paperwork?' because the police told me they sent the paperwork over and they said we don't have it, it was sent somewhere else," Graves said.

She filed a claim with the city on Feb. 8 and had not heard anything regarding her case when the I-Team first talked to her almost two weeks ago. The I-Team contacted the streets and sanitation department to ask what happened. The next business day, we were told there had been a "clerical error" and the car was sold for scrap.

However, the city was able to contact that company and get Graves' car back before it met the crusher.

Graves and her family went to see the car on Friday. She said it is not in the same condition it was in the night of her son's murder.

"It was hard to hold back the tears because my car wasn't like that," Graves said. ""It wasn't right."

A streets and sanitation spokesperson said "the department takes incidents like this very seriously. We understand the importance and our thoughts are with the family."

"Nothing is going to bring my baby back, that's what I would love to have," Graves said. "Something has to be done. Something, because nobody should be able to do that to anyone."

Graves told the I-Team late Tuesday that she was told by the city she will be given the Blue Book value for her car -- plus some money for the items missing from her car.

Nobody has been charged yet with her son's murder.

The family's church is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
Related Topics:
newsI-Teamhomicide investigationchicago police department
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