Whitney Young HS senior with autism found stabbed to death

ByLeah Hope and Rob Elgas via WLS logo
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
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Faculty and students at Whitney Young High School on Monday were mourning the loss of a popular special needs student who was stabbed to death.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Faculty and students at Whitney Young High School on Monday were mourning the loss of a popular student with special needs who was stabbed to death at his temporary apartment in the East Garfield Park neighborhood on the West Side.

Brandon Porter-Young was a handsome, quiet 18-year-old senior who loved playing basketball and gardening, according to a peer and members of the Whitney Young staff.

"It's a lot of mixed emotions. I'm sad, I'm crying, then I'm angry," said his brother Brian Porter.

Principal Joyce Dorsey Kenner recalled that the autistic student "always had a smile on his face."

Porter-Young's autism limited his verbal skills, and he had a hard time communicating with people he didn't know, according to Corryne Irvin, a special education teacher at Whitney Young.

"I was really shocked and it didn't really sink in until yesterday when I came to school and he wasn't here. When he didn't get off the bus," Irvin said.

Since early December, Porter-Young had been living with his mother at the Jr Plaza Hotel II, 3001 W. Jackson Blvd., said Annie Harris, a hotel employee.

About 10 p.m. Friday, Porter-Young was found at the hotel with multiple stab wounds to his upper body, according to Chicago Police and the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 10:25 p.m.

Porter-Young was diagnosed with autism as a child and his family doubts he would have spoken to anyone or opened the door.

"It's, like, high-functioning. You wouldn't know he had autism unless you talked with him, it takes him a while to respond," Brian said.

No one is in custody for the murder.

"Somebody knows something. Me and the family, we all hurt because at the end of the day, Brandon just didn't deserve this," said Antwan Jones, victim's uncle.

"Why would you do this to a harmless person?" Brian wondered. "It would be a great help if anyone who heard anything would at least let the detectives know."

The school's Tuesday night varsity basketball game was transformed into a fundraiser to help Porter-Young's family.

"All the monies that we are raising tonight, yesterday and today will be given to the family," said Whitney Young Principal Joyce Kenner.

Despite his disabilities, Porter-Young played on the Special Olympics basketball team and enjoyed gardening and music, a Whitney Young student and members of the faculty said.

Porter-Young was also involved in Whitney Young's popular Best Buddies program, which pairs special education students with other students from the school.

"He was a really sweet person," Porter-Young's Best Buddy partner Rowan Broderick said. Broderick, a freshman, said that she and Porter-Young often chatted in the school's cafeteria.

"I was devastated, I was hurt, I was sad, I was mad. I cried when I got home. I couldn't think straight, I was torn all to pieces," said Urunte Scott, Whitney Young senior.

Rebecca Folkerts, the advisor for the Best Buddies program and Porter-Young's former teacher, remembered him as a responsible student with a "great sense of humor." Folkerts said the "extremely bright" Brandon was primed to get a job after graduating at the end of the school year.

"As tragically as Brandon died - it's really, really sad - my heart is warmed by the outpouring of support for this young man," said Kenner.

A memorial service is scheduled on Feb. 20 at Whitney Young. The school's art department is also preparing a special project with flowers for the event to honor Porter-Young's love for gardening.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report