Man charged with murder, arson more than 2 years after pregnant woman found dead in Austin home

ByJessica D'Onofrio and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Sunday, May 21, 2023
Man charged with murder more than 2 years after pregnant woman's death
Victor Terrell is facing murder and arson charges more than two years after an Austin, Chicago fire. Pregnant woman Stephanie Haynes was found dead.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A man has been charged with murder more than two years after a pregnant woman was found dead after a house fire on Chicago's West Side, police said.

The body of Stephanie Haynes, 34, was found after a house fire in Austin on the morning of November 9, 2020, police said According to Haynes' sister, Lesley, the 34-year-old was 5 months pregnant.

Her body was discovered inside a home in the 5000-block of West Gladys shortly before 3 a.m., police said in a statement. She was unresponsive and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police.

On Sunday, police announced that Victor Terrell, 35, has been charged with first-degree murder and arson.

Lesley went to the home on the morning of the fire, and said she had been worried about her sister for a long time.

"I'm in shock. I can't believe it that someone would do something like that to her because she wouldn't hurt a fly," Lesley Haynes said.

Lesley Haynes said that her sister lived a difficult life. She lived in shelters, managing mental health issues before moving from Seattle to Chicago.

"So when she came here in November, I told her not to come up here that the resources in Seattle are better, and so she she came up here, she was pregnant and because of her mental capacity I feel like people take advantage of her," she said.

Haynes moved into the Austin home with her grandmother who died and then she lived in the home alone. At the time, police said they believed Haynes was dead before the fire.

"She frequently walked up and down the block, had people coming over all type of stuff but that's about as much as I know about her," said Darryl Stingley, a neighbor.

"She's a smart girl. Pretty, smart. She was a really good dancer," her sister recalled. "It's just sickening because she wouldn't hurt anybody."

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