Tag: Bryeon Hunter

In Maywood, A Day Of Remembrance For Victims Of Violence And Its Vicious Cycle

Day of Remembrance

The spoken word poet Paige Gillian during a Feb. 27 recital of her work at the Maywood Public Library during a A Day of Remembrance for Victims of Violence. | The Village Free Press

Day of Remembrance IIWednesday, March 2, 2016 || By Michael Romain 

A crowd of around 30 people gathered inside of a second-floor meeting room at the Maywood Public Library last Saturday, Feb. 27 listened closely to the testimony of area poet Paige Gillian, who recounted being chased by a group of men in Berwyn one night.

She said if it weren’t for her newly purchased Android cell phone, which fell loose from a coat pocket, she may not have been alive, or well enough, to be speaking that day. When the phone fell, her pursuer, distracted, slowed down, allowing her to gain some distance and run to safety.

“It could’ve all been over just like that,” she said. “Just like that. Life is serious. It is to be taken seriously.”

Gillian was among a panel of speakers and poets who shared their thoughts with community members during a Day of Remembrance for Victims of Violence, an event co-hosted by the Women’s Community Leadership Council and the group Mothers of Murdered Sons (MOMS).

A program that was circulated during the event featured a list of names, “Our Children Gone Too Soon,” of victims of violence in the Chicago area. They included young people, like Michael Brown, who have become symbols of injustice; in addition to cases, such as those of Bryeon Hunter and Dashamone McCarty, that took place closer to home.

Pac Butler, a youth advocate and filmmaker, reminded the audience that violence also tends to be perpetrated by people who have been victimized and hurt themselves.

“It wasn’t anything for us to shoot somebody,” Butler said, during a talk he gave right after Gillian delivered a poem about a friend of hers who was murdered (“He was only partying, good time with company, until his brain was blown out like leaves from a tree”).

Butler, an ex-gang member, said he was born on the South Side of Chicago and was homeless by the time he was 15 years old. He would ride the buses from one end of the city to the other just to keep warm and would wash up in restaurant bathrooms. He wore the same clothes every day.

“I did a lot of things,” he said. “I survived a couple of gunshot wounds I shouldn’t have survived.”

It took the murder of a close friend for Butler to realize, “That could’ve been me.” And it took a Chicago police officer, who took him off of the streets, for Butler to have a chance at redemption.

“When I finally had kids, [I told myself] if I was going to be boy enough to be part of the problem, I had to be man enough to be part of the solution,” he said. “So, I started volunteering with groups like” CeaseFire and Mothers of Murdered Sons.

He also produced a documentary film called “Young Bulls” about Chicago gang violence. He said he interviewed mothers like MOMS founder Phyllis Duncan and listened to their stories.

What he learned, he said, was that the epidemic of violence in Chicago and its suburbs isn’t isolated to areas where guns and crime predominate.

“This epidemic of violence doesn’t skip over the good [people and places],” he said. “It touches everybody, whether you’re bad, broke, Republican or Democrat.” VFP

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Bryeon Hunter Laid to Rest, Grandmother Proclaims Daughter’s Innocence

NBC Chicago was on the scene at the funeral of 1-year-old Bryeon Hunter, which was held at New Beginnings Church in Chicago. Read the full article below:

A 1-year-old Maywood boy whose beaten body was found in the Des Plaines River in May was laid to rest Friday.

“I wish I could hold him and see what he turns out to be when he grows up,” said Brenda Lloyd, Bryeon Hunter’s grandmother.

Before family and friends said their tearful goodbyes at New Beginnings Church, they took a stand outside, yelling that Bryeon’s mother, Lakesha Baker, is innocent.

“My daughter is innocent,” Lloyd said. “I’m going to stick by my daughter.”

Bryeon’s disappearance prompted an Amber Alert this spring after Baker told police the boy had been kidnapped. Cook County prosecutors said Baker later admitted to police that on April 15, her boyfriend Michael Scott covered the child’s mouth with his hand and held him down while she beat him with a belt.

Baker and Scott, both 21, were each charged with one count of first-degree murder. They both pleaded not guilty.

The mother and boyfriend blamed each other for disposing of the child in the river, prosecutors said.

Baker’s family on Friday said Scott is guilty and acted alone. At one point Chicago Police had to urge the family members inside the church.

DNA from the boy’s partially decomposed body was sent to the state police crime lab to confirm the identity of the remains, delaying the funeral.




Funeral Arrangements Set for Toddler Bryeon Hunter

The Forest Park Review is Now Partnering with The Village Free PressThe Chicago Tribune‘s Deanese Williams-Harris reported on September 8, 2013, that a funeral has been set for one-year old Bryeon Hunter, the toddler who was allegedly  murdered by his mother, LaKeisha Baker, and her boyfriend, Michael Scott. The Tribune article can be read in full below:

September 8, 2013 | By Deanese Williams-Harris | Tribune Reporter

A funeral has been set for a murdered Maywood toddler after DNA tests have confirmed the identity of a body found on a bank of the Des Plaines River.

After four months, DNA testing confirmed that the body found in the Des Plaines River was Bryeon Hunter, according to Dawn Valenti, a spokeswoman for New Beginnings Church, where a funeral has been scheduled for 10-11 a.m. Sept. 13.

In April, Bryeon’s mother, LaKeshia Baker, 22, reported the child had been kidnapped, but investigators quickly determined that the kidnapping did not occur. Police said Baker later told investigators that her boyfriend, Michael Scott, 21, had beaten the toddler with a belt and plastic hangers on April 15 and had left the boy on the bathroom floor of their Maywood apartment.

Police said the couple confessed to disposing of the toddler’s body but gave conflicting stories about where it was put in the river and by whom.

Baker and Scott, both of the 300 block of South 10th Avenue in Maywood were charged with Bryeon’s death. Baker was denied bail and Scott was ordered held in April on $750,000 bail, according to court records.

Prosecutors said after the beating, the couple disposed of the child’s lifeless body in a backpack before making up an elaborate story that the child had been abducted.

Baker, who appeared in court with two black eyes, admitted to authorities that she had beaten her son with a belt while Scott covered the child’s mouth so that the boy’s grandmother would not hear the boy scream, prosecutors said. She said Scott was beating the baby with plastic hangers when the boy’s grandmother, who lived in a downstairs apartment, yelled: ” ‘What’s going on up there,’ ” prosecutors said.

FIGHT TO KEEP MAYWOOD INFORMEDThe next day, the baby spent the morning lying on the bathroom floor, bruised, not moving and struggling to breath. Soon the couple realized he was dead, prosecutors said.

Baker and Scott allegedly folded the baby’s body up, stuffed it into a backpack and Scott left the apartment with the bag, said prosecutors.

When he came back, he told Baker he had dumped the body in the water near First Avenue and Oak Street in Maywood. But Scott told police it was Baker who had dumped the body near a McDonald’s at First Avenue and Lake Street, prosecutors said.

Police found the backpack and the clothes Bryeon was wearing but couldn’t locate his body.

About a month later, his body was found north of 31st Street near Brookfield Zoo by a kayaker who had noticed a strong odor. He approached a pile of logs and noticed the body, face up and caught on one of the logs.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said the body was significantly decomposed.

This morning, a representative of New Beginnings Church said DNA tests confirmed the boy’s identity and said that funeral services would be held Sept. 13 at the church. She said flower and toy donations could be sent to the church at 6620 S. King Drive in honor of Bryeon.

dawilliams@tribune.com | Twitter: @neacynewslady

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