Bolingbrook man charged with murder of young mom found in car; daughter, 2, unharmed in backseat

Jessica D'Onofrio Image
Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Man charged with murder of mom found in car, with toddler unharmed
Jermaine Mandley, 48, is charged with first degree murder in the death of Maya Smith of Joliet, who was found in her car with her unharmed daughter.

JOLIET, Ill. (WLS) -- A Bolingbrook man has been arrested and charged with the murder of a young mom found shot to death in her car with her daughter in the backseat, unharmed, in Joliet.

Maya Smith, 24, was pronounced dead early Sunday morning. Police said she was found in her vehicle shot multiple times a little after midnight in an alley near the 1200-block of Clement Street.

Smith's 2-year-old daughter was found in the backseat unharmed. ABC7 Chicago was told that child is being cared for by family.

Joliet police said Jermaine Mandley, 48 was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder. A Will County judge set his bond at $5 million.

Mandley was taken into custody on the southeast side of Chicago Tuesday at about 6 p.m. Tuesday. He is being held in the Will County Adult Detention Facility.

Smith's friends and family described her as a vibrant person, kind and generous and a loving mother who was a rock to the people in her life.

"She always came through for me all the time... For me, I lost a sister. Maya was more like a sister to me than anything," close friend Tasia Waters said.

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"She was very, very picky with who can take care of her daughter. I loved, I loved that about her. It was like she always wanted her safe all the time," Waters said. "She was a genuine person. She was very sweet. So sweet."

Waters said Smith had a job at a bank, but was going back to school and was taking business courses, with a goal of perhaps starting a business one day.

"She wanted to own her own business," Waters said. "She was going to be successful any kind of way she could."

Waters said she was planning to work food delivery that night, so that could explain why she was in her car.

The Joliet police chief released a statement, saying, "In my 28 years in law enforcement, this is one of the most heinous acts that I've encountered. I'm extremely proud of our detectives, who have worked around the clock to bring this coward to justice. I hope this quick arrest provides comfort to the family of Ms. Smith during a time of such unspeakable loss."