UPDATED 11/30/10 9:48 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – The search is on for the motive in a grisly crime in the South Side’s Morgan Park neighborhood.
As CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports, police are confirming that a person of interest is being questioned in the stabbing deaths of Stacy Cochran-Hill, 43, and her two daughters: Joi, 11, and Jade, 17.
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The victims were found in a third-floor apartment in the 11100 block of South Bell Avenue at 10:28 p.m. Monday. The bodies were removed from the crime scene early Tuesday morning, and forensic technicians worked through the night collecting bags of evidence from the apartment.
A source said all three victims were stabbed multiple times and that the teen had a big gash on her side. The same sources said the 43-year-old used a cane to help her get around.
Police say the deaths are possibly domestic-related.
Stacy Cochran-Hill’s family says they noticed absolutely nothing out of the ordinary yesterday when they saw her. Stacy had gone shopping with her mother, Sharon Ramey, and walked her aunt, Estelle Baker, through a new computer program over the phone.
“It’s sick. They have no regard for life,” said Baker.
Neither of them knew it would be the last time they would see and speak to Stacy.
“I just screamed. I screamed, ‘my babies, my angels,’ because I always called them my angels,” said Baker. “We’re going to get through this. God’s going to see us through this. God’s going to take care of the person that did that.”
Stacy’s mother and the girls’ grandmother, Sharon Ramey, heard the news from police this morning.
“All I wanted somebody to do is slap me and wake me up and tell me this was a dream,” she said.
Ramey says she didn’t know of anyone who might have a grudge against the family.
Stacy was a hospital patient intake specialist.
“Stacy, she liked to work. She worked at the University of Chicago. She was a fun person. She liked to dance, she liked to skate. She was a nice person,” said Ramey.
Jade, 17, loved sports and dancing. Her grandmother says the Morgan Park High School senior also had a flair for fashion.
“She liked to dress, loved clothes. She had a different hairdo every week,” Ramey said.
Joi, 11, was a sixth grader at Roseland Christian School.
“She was on the honor roll in school,” said Ramey. “She sang in the school choir and she was a praise dancer.”
Stacy’s uncle, Larry Phillips, says he remembers the children, “happy, smiling, full of energy.”
“It’s just a tremendous loss. It’s almost like it’s a nightmare,” said Phillips. “I wish somebody would pinch me so I could wake up, but I know that’s not gonna happen.”
Neighbors on the quiet, charming residential block were awakened to the news of violence on their street.
Neighbor Mia Gueno said the victims were her neighbors, and her daughter played with the 11-year-old girl who was slain.
“As a matter of fact, I’m on my way to pick up my daughter now. She’s not having a good time at school,” said. She called the situation “very jarring, because this is a quiet, stable area. This doesn’t happen, so it is frightening.”
Another neighbor, Gerald Williamson, said he had never seen anything like this in the neighborhood.
“It’s a wonderful place to live. I’ve been here for about 18 years ago, and I’ve never heard of anything like this happening,” Williamson said. “It’s a shock to all the neighbors.”
Tracy Jackson, 49, who lives in another apartment in the building where the stabbings took place, said he was watching Monday Night Football last night and did not hear any disturbance.
Jackson described his fiancé as a “nervous wreck” and said she wants to move out of the building.
“You hate to hear about [the stabbings], but you’re glad its not a break-in or a home-invasion,” Jackson said. “You’re not safe anywhere.”
Calumet Area detectives are conducting a homicide investigation.
Police say the stabbings were an isolated incident, so there is no cause for alarm in the community.
“I had one daughter and two grandkids. They took all of them from me at one time. That’s the way I feel,” said Ramey.
Police say there’s no evidence of a break-in. And loved ones believe the three were targeted. The question is: by whom?
A person of interest is in custody but no charges have been filed.
Ramey says that provides little comfort.
“Not really, until they charge them. If who they’ve got, who they’re questioning is the person who did this, then God please put the jail on top of them and never let them walk the street again,” she said.
Stacy Cochran-Hill’s birthday is Friday. The mother of two would have been 44 years old.
Grief counselors were on hand at 11-year-old Joi’s school. Joi was the second sixth grader to die from Roseland Christian School in just the past two months.
Joi’s father, Henry Hill, says his daughter was the last person he spoke to at her home last night.
“We got off the phone as we always do. ‘I love you, daddy. I love you, Joi.’ So those were the last words I spoke to my little baby,” he said.
At times tonight, Sharon Ramey sat on the couch just shaking as she looked at a whole wall of photos devoted to her daughter and grandkids.
Police at Area 2 are questioning a person of interest as they continue their investigation.
CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez, Suzanne Le Mignot, Pamela Jones, and the Sun-Times Media Wire, contributed to this report.