Young mom found murdered in Wheeling apartment; 1-year-old daughter missing, police say

Leah Hope Image
Thursday, November 11, 2021
Mom found murdered in Wheeling home; toddler missing, police say
Wheeling police say they found Ja'nya Murphy murdered in her apartment and her 1-year-old daughter Jaclyn "Angel" Dobbs missing.

WHEELING, Ill. (WLS) -- Police making a well-being check at a Wheeling apartment building Tuesday night found a woman slain and her 1-year-old daughter missing.

Ja'nya Murphy, 21, was discovered around 10:20 pm. Tuesday after officers climbed onto a balcony and entered her apartment in the 300 block of Inland Drive in Wheeling, according to Deputy Police Chief Al Steffen.

Murphy appeared to have been murdered and her daughter, Jaclyn "Angel" Dobbs was not in the home, Steffen said.

The cause of death was unclear, he said, but "based upon what the officers discovered would lead a reasonable person to believe that a homicide was committed."

No Amber Alert has been issued for the child as police said they don't have enough information to issue one. They're hoping they'll know more soon.

"We have no information to go along with who she might be with or vehicle she might be in," said Wheeling Deputy Chief Al Steffen.

Steffen said it appeared Murphy had been assaulted and they are eager to find her daughter.

"We need the public's assistance with this," Steffen said. "They might be able to connect the dots, connect a link that we don't have right now."

Murphy was a 2018 graduate of Stevenson High School and lived with her daughter at the apartment building, Wheeling police said.

Classmate and high school friend Brentley Wright said she was "one of the sweetest people you could meet. A loving and caring person."

The Major Case Assistance Team was called in to help collect and process evidence. A forensics team was scouring the scene and the Cook County medical examiner's office has yet to perform an autopsy, Steffen said.

Police went to the building after Murphy had not been to work Tuesday and had not been seen by relatives since Monday, Steffen said. With help from the fire department, officers climed onto Murphy's balcony, finding the door unlocked and discovering her body inside.

Steffen said Murphy would drop Angel off to relatives before work, but she didn't drop off the baby on Tuesday and she didn't show up to her retail job. Murphy's family last talked with her Monday.

Steffen added that detectives are looking at her social media to find people who actually interacted with her so they can reconstruct the last 24 hours of her life.

Anyone with information can call Wheeling police at (847) 459-2632.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.