Demetrius Griffin Jr. was 15 years old when he was murdered. His burned body was found inside a garbage can in the south Austin neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, more than five years ago.
On the night of Sept. 16, 2016, Demetrius, a freshman at Steinmetz High School, left his house to walk a girl home, and he never returned.
His mother, Polly Sykes, began to worry because she said her son was known as “a gentle, respectful kid” who never missed his curfew, according to ABC 7 Chicago.
The following morning, Sykes stated that she walked outside and saw the “news trucks” and heard that a body had been found burning nearby.
She said, “To hear about a body burning and my son is not home, it destroyed me.”
It was reported that firefighters with the Chicago Fire Department were dispatched to an alley in the 5500 block of West Cortez Street after receiving several reports of a fire.
When the firemen arrived on the scene, they extinguished the fire and made a gruesome discovery. Inside a garbage can near a burned garage was a body that had been burned beyond recognition.
The body was transported to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy and identification.
Using dental records, the pathologist was able to identify the remains as those of Demetrius Griffin Jr., who was known as “Nunnie” in his community.
ABC 7 NY reported that Demetrius died from “thermal injuries due to an incendiary fire in a garbage can, which means he was alive when the fire started.”
His death was ruled a homicide.
The detectives stated that whoever started the deadly fire may have suffered burns.
The news of Demetrius’ death quickly disseminated through the south Austin neighborhood, stunning residents, friends, and his family members.
They stated that he was “close to his parents, loved dogs, and he wanted to join his high school’s swim team.”
Sykes told WGNTV that although Demetrius was not affiliated with a gang, he told her that “a gang was trying to recruit him.”
“I knew they was [SIC] messing with him. The guys in the neighborhood were bothering with him. So I was picking him up and driving him. This particular night I didn’t.”
CBS News reported that Demetrius’ aunt spoke with CBS 2’s Dana Kozloc and “blamed the streets’ code of silence and the police for not retrieving information in the case that could help solve it.”
“Can you imagine the screams? Burning him alive? And you did nothing? How can they pay the attention to this case that it needs if they are constantly called away because someone else has been murdered.”
At around 7 p.m. on Sept. 20, 2016, a candlelight vigil was held for Demetrius Griffin Jr. at the alley where his body was found. More than 150 people were in attendance.
Polly Sykes spoke at the vigil. She said, “Some monster out there murdered my son; they murdered my son.”
“If anybody seen anything, please help us. He was just a baby; he didn’t deserve this.”
Anyone with information regarding the unsolved murder of Demetrius Griffin Jr. is encouraged to contact the Chicago Police Department at (312) 744-8261 or submit a tip online.
A $15,000 reward is being offered for more information.