Jayden Perkins death: Family wants to change how domestic violence parole cases handled

Chicago dance school shares memories of 11-year-old, killed protecting pregnant mother

ByMaher Kawash, Cate Cauguiran, and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, March 28, 2024
Murdered boy's family wants to change how domestic violence parole cases are handled
Jayden Perkins' family wants to change how domestic violence parole cases are handled. The Chicago dancer was killed protecting his pregnant mother.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The family of a young boy, who was killed while protecting his mother, said they want to see a change to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening to another family.

Original Gus Giordano Dance School in Andersonville on Wednesday released video of 11-year-old Jayden Perkins performing.

The school's executive director said Perkins had an exceptional work ethic, combined with a constant smile that filled every room.

"When I received my scholarship from Gus I was like 'Oh my God, seriously I always wanted to go here,'" Perkins said in the video.

Perkins was stabbed to death while trying to protect his pregnant mother earlier this month in Edgewater.

"He was able to project his love and kindness through his school, his dance, his friends," Perkins' aunt Amber Turner said. "He put others before himself and just always wanting to be so helpful."

Crosetti Brand is charged with killing him and trying to kill the boy's mother.

He'd been released from prison on parole just hours before the attack.

In the weeks following Perkins' death, two members of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board have stepped down, including the lead reviewer of the case.

Perkins' family is angry and devastated by how this attack happened, as they say the system failed them, by allowing the suspect to be released from prison on parole.

They're hoping Perkins' legacy can lead to some policy changes when it comes to domestic violence cases.

"We are fighting through our anger and through our grief, still trying to make sense of it all," Turner said.

Turner never thought she'd be living without her nephew.

"My nephew's name already speaks for itself as far as how great he was, how vibrant, how loving and how he touched so many souls. Everyone was able to see that," Turner said.

The family is angry with the fact that Brand was released from prison in the first place.

Perkins' mother filed for an emergency order of protection on not long before Brand was released from prison, the Cook County Circuit Court confirmed. According to court documents, she was supposed to be in court March 13, the day she was stabbed.

"The simple fact that the system has failed my sister and our family, and that my 11-year-old nephew had to be murdered behind this is just crazy," Turner said.

The Illinois Prisoner Review Board said they did not know the order of protection was filed when Brand was released. Two state prisoner review board members resigned this week amid the controversy over Brand's release.

"We just lost my nephew, so that speaks for itself; they should've never let him out," Turner said. " They should have set up some type of protection for the family when my sister was asking for one instead of denying her an emergency order of protection."

Police said Perkins' mother and Brand had a relationship 15 years ago, but wouldn't provide any more details.

ABC7 Chicago is not naming his mother, since she is a victim of domestic violence.

"We want better prevention and protection; I can't bring my nephew back, but maybe it will save someone else," Turner said.

Turner said the family wants to create "Jayden's Law."

While nothing can bring Jayden's life back, they've started a petition on change.org, saying the law would call for changes in how parole boards and courts handle domestic violence cases.

"Everyone wants to sob and resign from their positions after this has happened; nothing will bring Jayden Perkins back. But we will try to continue his legacy behind his name," Turner said.

Turner and her family are finding optimism in the joy that Perkins left them with.

"He is being remembered as a loved, energetic and vibrant soul, happiness and just silly, a brother, a cousin; he is being remembered by everything he should be," Turner said.

The family did not want to comment on the condition of Perkins' pregnant mother and her unborn child.

Brand will remain behind bars until his trial.