UPDATED 07/07/11 4:43 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago police were hinting on Thursday that they might have solved the highly-publicized murder of a woman on a stairway at the Fullerton ‘L’ stop on the CTA Red Line four months ago.
Sally Katona-King, 68, died after a robber pushed her down the stairs at the train station in March.
As CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, a teenager already in custody at a Joliet juvenile facility is being questioned in Katona-King’s death.
The 17-year-old is serving a four-year sentence for a similar iPhone robbery at another Red Line station on May 15, police said.
Katona-King’s death – like so many murders – was a senseless one.
The church receptionist was pushed down the stairs at the Fullerton Red Line station on March 28, by a man fleeing the scene after stealing another passenger’s iPhone. Katona-King took a spill and fell down the concrete steps, and later died from her injuries.
“We believe he tried to jump over her, and he knocked her over backwards,” police Belmont Area Detective Sgt. Debra DeYoung said last month.
Katona-King’s death left her children – including daughter Eileen – almost numb from grief.
“It makes no sense, no sense. A stupid cell phone. It makes no sense,” her daughter Eileen Katona said shortly after the incident.
When she was knocked down and killed, Katona-King was coming home from her job as a receptionist at the Evangelical Lutheran Metropolitan Chicago Synod in the Logan Square neighborhood.
Within a week of the incident, Chicago police were out circulating flyers with a sketch of the possible suspect.
Now, sources said that detectives are talking to a 17-year-old boy about Katona-King’s murder. Chicago police officials would only confirm significant progress has been made in the case.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports
“She was amazing,” Katona-King’s friend, Bill Lambe, said Thursday. “Loving, caring; just kind of the best giving person you’d ever meet.”
Lambe said he hopes someone will eventually pay for killing a woman loved by so many.
“We hope they find whoever it was and that this tragedy leads to improvements in the security and the welfare of the commuting public here,” Lambe said.
“I think Sally would want them held accountable and punished for their actions, but also given the opportunity to grow and learn and to have a better life after that,” he added.
It’s not clear what led Chicago detectives to question the teenager, who is serving time in an Illinois Department of Corrections detention facility in Joliet.
Police said no charges are anticipated in the immediate future.
On Thursday morning at the Fullerton ‘L’ stop, which serves the Brown, Red and Purple lines is the primary stop for the busy Lincoln Park neighborhood and DePaul University campus, commuters hoped police had the right person.
“I did see that they have possibly apprehended someone; not been an arrest yet,” said Scottie Hensley. “I’d definitely like to see that arrest happen. I think there needs to be a lot more responsibility on detectives’ parts to crack down on these people.”
Kaitlin Olivero said she is “just trying to be more aware, but it’s random so… definitely more aware of your surroundings, with all of the other craziness that’s going on with flash mobs and stuff too.”
Added Matt Koehne: “When you think about how easy it is for something like that to happen just walking up the stairs, so unassuming, to be able to catch the person – it’s definitely a way to make you feel a little bit better on the commute.”
Koehne says he has both an iPod and an iPhone, but ever since he heard about what happened in the incident that killed Katona-King, he doesn’t use them on the ‘L’ train or keep them visible.