The Unsolved Murder of a Chicago Police Officer

February 21, 2011 9:00:59 PM PST
It's been seven months since veteran Officer Michael Bailey was gunned down in front of his own home.

Five Chicago police officers were shot and killed in 2010. There have been arrests in four of the cases, but not in the murder of Officer Michael Bailey.

Just a few weeks shy of his mandatory retirement at age 63, Bailey left his overnight shift guarding the mayor's residence, went home, and was wiping down his newly purchased car. He was wearing a light shirt atop his uniform when he was gunned down in front of his home.

"There is no love like the love from a brother. It can never be replaced," said Patrice Taylor, Officer's Bailey's sister.

Taylor used to talk on the phone with her big brother Mike every day. Hi. How are you? I love you. Be safe.

On a day last July, Michael's call didn't come, and when Patrice saw the television, she knew why.

"We think about him every day. Sometimes something will happen, and I've called his cell phone many times just to hear his voice," said Taylor.

"Since July 18th 2010, at 6 o'clock in the morning, I've been living this case every day of my life," said Det. Brian Johnson, Chicago Police.

Johnson and his Area 2 colleagues have amassed a mountain of information. They've conducted over 100 interviews. They have theories, but not much beyond that.

"It seems like every time we get a promising lead, we move forward but we haven't been able to take another two or three steps forward and, like I told you, I go home every night and my 10-year-old daughter asks me about this case. Daddy, did you figure out who killed Officer Bailey, and I have to tell her no," said Johnson.

Detectives think there may have been eyeball witnesses, but no one's come forward.

Eight shell casings were found at the scene - all from Officer Bailey's gun. The killer used a revolver so there's not much forensic evidence.

Michael Bailey was an Air Force veteran, a 20-year veteran on the police department, a local school council member, and an invested member of his community.

The neighborhood has been blanketed with flyers. Police have just launched a Facebook page that they hope may help. And the reward offer is now at $130,000. But the break has not yet come.

"We're just looking for that one lead to push us in one direction, and that's a lot of money when the phones aren't ringing, and it's been several months and the phones are ringing less and less and less," said Lt Brendan Deenihan, Area 2 Chicago Police.

In the 7400 block of South Evans, there remains a curbside memorial in front of Officer Bailey's old house. His family has moved out of the neighborhood.

At police headquarters, there are plans to retire officer Bailey's star next month. In the field, detectives keep working toward and a family keeps hoping for a break.

"I think of all the time he gave to the city in serving and protecting. I think for the community he's owed that. I think they owe him to come forward, no matter how small or insignificant they think the information is," said Taylor.

There is only a vague description of a man seen running from the murder scene. It's hard to say whether the absence of substantive leads are due to fear of retribution or a code of silence. But tough cases often get solved because somebody who knows talks to somebody. Detective Johnson says he has faith that will happen.