Second body in burning vehicle found in Gresham

A woman who worked with disabled children was beaten and set on fire on the South Side.
Friday, August 15, 2014
A person was found dead in a burning vehicle in Auburn Gresham Friday morning, almost three hours before another person was found outside of a burning SUV in the same neighborhood.

The first body was found about 5 a.m. in a burning vehicle in the 8400 block of South Gilbert Court, police said.

Fire authorities extinguished the car blaze and found a person dead in the back seat, Fire Media Affairs Director Larry Langford said.

The person was dead at the scene, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office. Their gender, age, name and home address were not released Friday night.

Also on Friday morning, a woman's burned body was found underneath her SUV, which had also been set on fire, in an alley on the city's South Side.

Chicago police were called to the scene in the 8600-block of South Honore in Gresham around 7 a.m. Friday after neighbors made the gruesome discovery underneath the burning red Kia Soul.

Pam Worell said she thought she heard a baby crying before her neighbor found the body.

"When she stepped out, it was a young lady under the car, unclothed and screaming," Worell said. Police said clothing that may belong to the victim was found in a nearby trash can.

Family members identified the victim as Sherita Smith, 46, of Chicago.

"You took away a wonderful mother. A loving sister. A caring person. And a devoted individual with a heart of gold," Seron Smith, brother, said.

Smith worked with disabled children at the Chicago Park District. Before that she worked for Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind.

"My oldest daughter," Rosetta Smith, mother, sobbed. "Oh, dear God, why? Dear God, why?"

Smith has three children, including a 7-year old she recently adopted. She was looking forward to taking her son to college at Western Illinois University next week, family said.

"Yesterday, we spent the whole day shopping," Sha-Lynn Smith, victim's son, said. "Usually, we don't spend that much time together. But yesterday, we were cracking jokes."

A $1,000 reward is being offered in the case. Community activist Andrew Holmes is calling on the offender or offenders to go to police.

"You have a mother. I'm quite sure you have a father. This should have never happened. We're asking you to turn yourself in," Holmes said.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.
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