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Boy Who Died Lived In Squalid Home With More Than 100 animals

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Authorities on Friday swarm the residential street where a boy died amid squalid conditions. (CBS)

Authorities on Friday swarm the residential street where a boy died amid squalid conditions. (CBS)

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Police Release Sketch Of 'L' Stop Suspect
Updated 03/31/11 - 9:00 p.m. CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago police have released a sketch of the man who knocked down and killed a 68-year-old grandmother as he bolted from a robbery at the Fullerton ‘L’ stop earlier in the week. As CBS 2's Dana Kozlov reports, on Thursday afternoon, police officers handed out dozens of flyers to CTA commuters at the Fullerton "L" stop, on Fullerton Avenue just east of Sheffield Avenue. The community alert features a sketch of the robber responsible for the death of Sally Katona-King, 68, on Monday afternoon. “We have police officers going up and down the street, going to the businesses, hoping they’ll put (flyers) in their windows so we get more coverage,” said Belmont Area Police Cmdr. Gary Yamashiroya. “The idea here is to get this (sketch) in front of as many people as possible so that, possibly, someone will know this person and give us a call.”
The manhunt continues for the suspect. On Monday afternoon, he was running away with an iPhone he had stolen on a CTA Brown Line train, when he pushed Katona-King, sending her tumbling down the stairs. Katona-King was pronounced dead Tuesday at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. Police are now hunting for the subject, which Yamashiroya previously said is being investigated “as seriously as any homicide.” The suspect is described as an African-American male, 17 to 25 years old, 5'11" to 6'4" tall, weighing 170 to 220 pounds. He was wearing a black hat, black jacket with the letters "WS" on the back and blue jeans. On Thursday, retired Chicago Police officer Greg Jacobs said he thinks he saw the suspect -- along with two other men -- in the Westfield mall in Mundelein just before noon on Tuesday. His belief is based on the description of the suspect’s clothes, which included a dark jacket with the letters “WS” on the back. When shown the suspect sketch released Thursday, Jacobs told CBS 2’s Mike Parker: “That’s him.”  Jacobs says the three were acting suspiciously in the Best Buy Mobile store, which specializes in cell phones. He says while the suspect was in the store with the two others, the men appeared to break into a locked compartment for high-priced phones. They fled the store when he approached them. The cell phone store in the mall has a working surveillance camera. Chicago Police say they would be interested in seeing the video. While the Fullerton ‘L’ stop received a major upgrade a couple of years ago that included new elevators and longer platforms, there is only one security camera in the whole station. It is downstairs, and the suspect escaped its view. Katona-King’s son, David King, told CBS 2’s Mike Parker he finds this fact troubling. “I’ve heard there’s numerous robberies and assaults at that location,” King said. “You would think they could afford to put up surveillance cameras. I don’t understand why there’s not.” The Chicago Transit Authority told CBS 2 on Wednesday that 40 percent of its train stations have only one camera. But they say they have “a plan in place to install additional cameras at those stations that only have one,” and is pursuing funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for that purpose. And there might have been a camera that spotted the robber, at a Currency Exchange near Fullerton and Lincoln avenues and Halsted Street. Sources said the robber bolted out of the ‘L’ stop's exit on the north side of Fullerton Avenue and ran east. In the wake of the robbery, safety remains a serious concern for public transit users. On the Red Line Wednesday night, CBS 2 found what might be called easy pickings by a thief – iPhones, iPads and cell phones everywhere. Recent statistics show theft on CTA trains is up 12 percent, while theft on CTA platforms is up 9.1 percent. Meanwhile, a community group has come forward to offer a $1,000 reward for information that leads police to the subject. Anyone with information is asked to call (800) UTELLUS, or (800) 883-5587. The wake for Katona-King is scheduled for Friday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Grein Funeral Home, 2141 W. Irving Park Rd. The funeral will be held at Grein on Saturday at 10:30 a.m., and is open to the public.

BERWYN, Ill. (STMW) — The death of a 14-year-old suburban boy discovered living in squalid conditions Thursday afternoon has prompted state officials to warn about the dangers of “social isolation” and a lack of community response.

The teen’s mother is being investigated by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and three of his siblings were removed from the home, authorities said.

Matthew Degner of 2834 Lombard Ave. in Berwyn was pronounced dead at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn at 4:39 p.m. Thursday, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

An autopsy Friday determined Degner died of bronchopneumonia and his death was ruled natural, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Authorities on Thursday found dozens of animals, including 40 cats, 24 birds and at least one squirrel inside the home, which also had a bug infestation. Feces were found in the home and it had no running water, according to a source.

“Our animal control unit was called out to assist Thursday and Friday,’’ said Steve Patterson, spokesman for Cook County Sheriff’s office.

Since Berwyn does not have an animal crimes unit, they requested county assistance, he said.

“They encountered more than 100 animals in the home,’’ said Patterson. “Our animal control officers who have been in some pretty horrific and disgusting environments said this home was easily the worst they’ve been in.’’

Patterson did not know whether Berwyn authorities had filed charges. The police chief was on the scene Friday afternoon and could not be reached for comment.

DCFS spokesman Kendall Marlowe said the agency is investigating allegations of neglect against Degner’s mother, although DCFS had no previous contact with the family. Three minor siblings between the ages of 12 and 17 were removed from the home. Upon their release from a hospital, they are now receiving medical care and therapy, Marlowe said.

Marlowe said the case is a stark reminder of the dangers of social isolation.

“Social isolation is one of the most powerful risk factors for serious harm to children,” Marlowe said. “If we as a community never knock on that door that no one ever seems to open, we may never know how bad it is or how we can help.”

 (Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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