This has been a long and frustrating investigation for police. There have been leads that look promising and then go cold. But this latest development appears to be the most promising yet.
A source confirms for ABC7 that the lead involves a 24-year-old man who is currently in a downstate Illinois prison. He was arrested for vehicular hijacking and parole violation last September, a couple months after Officer Bailey's murder.
Bailey had just come off duty from his overnight shift last July 18. He was cleaning his new car in front of his home in the 7400-block of South Evans when he was shot to death.
An early theory was that it was a robbery or carjacking. Bailey did fire his weapon, but he was fired on and his wounds were fatal.
The source says that the young man in prison has made statements to other inmates and subsequently to police about the Bailey shooting, but he has not yet been charged, and there is still more investigative legwork to be done.
The Sun-Times quotes other police sources Friday afternoon as saying that there is enough to bring charges now, but that that decision is on hold because Illinois State's Attorney Anita Alvarez is out of town, speaking at a conference in Hawaii.
The state's attorney's office issued a statement Friday afternoon, saying, Alvarez will be at the conference and "gone for a matter of days, not weeks," and that "there remains additional investigation that must still be completed" in the case. The statement concludes, "Our goal is justice, not haste."
The shooting death of a police officer still in uniform -- in front of his own home -- in the daylight hours of a new day last July weighs very heavily on his family, his colleagues, and those working the case now nearly a year old.
A source close to the investigation, without saying when charges might come, said that the lead involving the 24-year-old behind prison bars is very promising.
Chicago Police Department statement regarding the investigation:
"The Chicago Police Department is working closely with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office in the Officer Michael Bailey murder investigation. In any criminal investigation, it is our collective duty to ensure the investigation is not compromised in any way. The Chicago Police Department is in full support of all necessary measures to ensure the integrity of an investigation. The Department concurs with the current assessment of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office in the Bailey investigation, and we are confident that, once all of the investigative work is completed, the case will be charged appropriately."