The crime was shocking in both its brutality and seeming randomness.
Susan Spiller, 68, a well-known community activist and artist, was found beaten or stabbed to death in her Lind Bohanon neighborhood home, a grisly killing that shocked the North Side.
Now, nearly four months after the slaying, city homicide detectives are still looking for her killer.
Police briefly considered a teenager with a long history of run-ins with the law as a likely suspect, but he was never questioned, according to a police official.
Spiller, who was a personal friend of City Council president Barb Johnson, was found badly beaten by officers on the morning of July 16 in her modest wood-frame house on the 5100 block of Dupont Avenue N. The killing came as a shock to some in the surrounding neighborhood, where violent crime has receded recently. Her body was so mangled that medical examiners couldn’t determine the precise manner in which she died, instead ruling her death a “complex homicide.”
A neighbor told police at the time that he awoke in the middle of the night to let his dog out, and saw a “bigger SUV or pickup” truck parked in the alley behind Spiller’s house, with its lights on. Thinking nothing of it at the time, he went inside without calling the police, according to police reports.
Police also questioned a neighbor, with whom Spiller had apparently had an altercation shortly before her death that left her shaken and fearful.
Investigators say they are still actively investigating and remain hopeful for a break in the case.
Johnson, visibly shaken, appeared at a hastily called press conference a few hours after Spiller’s death, in which city leaders promised that authorities would not rest until the killer was caught. Since then, police have released few details or responded to basic questions about the investigation.
“We continue to work aggressively off of the evidence we have located as well as the number of leads that have come in,” police spokesman John Elder said this week, while declining to comment further.