It was nearly midnight on November 12, 2007, when a body was left burning in a dumpster along the 6100 block of South Prairie Avenue near Washington Park in Chicago, Illinois.
The charred body had to be identified using dental records. After three days, the remains were determined to be those of 21-year-old Theresa Marie Bunn. The young woman had been 8-months-pregnant.
Hours before she was found nude and strangled in an abandoned lot, Theresa told her family she was going shopping either in Chicago or Evergreen Park. When she failed to return home, her mother worried she had gotten confused due to a mental condition.
Theresa faced some legal issues in the months leading up to her m*urder. In August, an order of protection was filed against her.
According to the Chicago Tribune, court documents state that a man accused Theresa of making threatening phone calls. She claimed he was the father of her baby and threatened to have him beaten.
The man admitted to having a relationship with Theresa but argued it wasn’t sexual. On the other hand, the pregnant woman accused the man and his mother of “stalking and harassing” her because they knew the baby was his.
In September, she was arrested after violating this order by going to his home.
“I want them to leave me along (sic) they are stressing me out. They are trying to make me lose this baby.”
But any troubles she may have had with this man are not the sole focus when discussing the possibilities of what happened to the young woman.
A mere two miles away and not even 48 hours after Theresa was found, another Black woman’s body was placed in a dumpster and set on fire near Washington Park. 52-year-old Hazel Lewis had also been strangled.
Theresa and Hazel are just two possible victims of a speculated serial k*iller dubbed the Chicago Strangler. Fifty-one women, the majority Black, were mur*dered between 2001 and 2018. All were strangled, their bodies left in alleyways, vacant lots, and abandoned houses. At least seven were found in trash receptacles.
The Mur*der Accountability Project brought attention to the issue after they reviewed the fifty-one mur*der cases and found a pattern indicating a serial ki*ller. The non-profit’s founder, Thomas Hargrove, says the ki*llings have a “remarkably similar M.O.” He explained,
“If you look at these, at the nature of the cases, it’s classic. It couldn’t be more serial-looking. It’s got every element for a classic pattern. It actually stretches credulity to imagine that these 51 women were ki*lled by 51 separate men.”
In 2019, Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson opened an investigation due to pressure from activists. There have been no updates, but Johnson said he does not believe there is any evidence to suggest a serial ki*ller roaming Chicago was responsible for dozens of stranglings,
“Trust me, if there was, there would be no reason for us not to share that with ya’ll. What would we gain by not being transparent? Nothing.”
Theresa’s family decided against a funeral due to the state of her remains. Instead, they held a vigil at the abandoned lot where she was found. Her father, Anthony McCray, explained,
“To me, this is her last place. It shouldn’t be here. They took our baby and burned her like she was garbage.”
The soon-to-be mother had picked the name Michael Pierre Terry Bunn, which she had chosen in honor of her 14-year-old brother Michael. The eldest of five siblings, Theresa’s baby would have been the family’s first grandchild. Her aunt, Rose Marie Williams, commented,
“We were expecting a baby next month and we don’t have [anything].”
The case has gone cold but the family desperately wants the k*iller behind bars as it is their only hope for closure. The mu*rder of Theresa Bunn and her unborn son Michael has been unsolved for 15 years. Anthony has asked for those who may have any information to come forward,
“This time it’s our daughter. But it could be your daughter, your niece, your mother. We, as a community, need to help each other.”