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National
Police offer largest reward in Chicago history for spree killer
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Police offer largest reward in Chicago history for spree killer

Police offer largest reward in Chicago history for spree killer
Photo Credit: Chicago Police Department
A screen shot taken from surveillance footage released by the Chicago Police Department shows a man suspected of killing Douglass Watts, 73, on Sept. 30, 2018, in the Rogers Park neighborhood where he lived. The same man is suspected of killing Eliyahu Moscowitz, 24, a few blocks away 36 hours later. A $150,000 reward, the largest in the city's history, has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the gunman.

Police offer largest reward in Chicago history for spree killer

The Chicago Police Department on Thursday offered the largest reward in the city’s history -- $150,000 -- for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a man suspected of killing two strangers 36 hours apart last month. 

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said investigators will not stop until they have the killer of Douglass Watts, 73, and Eliyahu Moscowitz, 24, in custody. The cash reward, which jumped from $23,000 to the current amount, was raised entirely by citizens and community organizations. 

The killings took place in the Rogers Park neighborhood, a normally low-crime area that is home to Loyola University’s Chicago campus. 

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“The Rogers Park community, along with the entire city of Chicago, was rocked by the senseless murders that took place here just over five weeks ago,” Johnson said during a news conference. “We are using every resource at our disposal to find the individual responsible. These were heinous actions, and we will find that person who committed these actions in our community.”

Watts was killed by a masked man on the morning of Sept. 30 as he walked his dogs outside his home in the 1400 block of West Sherwin Avenue, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The following night, Moscowitz was playing Pokemon Go alone on the nearby Loyola Park’s lakefront path when someone walked up and shot him point-blank in the head. 

The men died in the same manner -- gunshot wounds to the head -- just a few blocks apart, police officials said. Ballistics testing showed that shell casings found at both scenes came from the same gun, the Sun-Times reported

CBS Chicago initially reported that investigators believed Watts was killed during a robbery, but they later determined that nothing was stolen from him. Neighbors were stunned by his slaying. 

“We’re devastated,” Rogers Park resident Bruno Mondello told the news station. “There’s no words that I can even convey for something like this.”

Police officials have also posited that the shootings could be hate crimes. Watts was gay and Moscowitz was an Orthodox Jew. According to the Times of Israel, Moscowitz worked as a mashgiach, or kosher supervisor, in a supermarket in nearby Evanston. 

Moscowitz’s body was found by a pastor of a Chicago-area church, who the Jewish newspaper reported stayed with him until help arrived. 

“He is laying there with the rain coming down, and if it was my son or my relative, I would just want someone to stand with them during this time,” Pastor John Elleson told the newspaper. “I just find my heart breaking with the gentleman, is all.”

Those who knew Moscowitz described him as a kind man who always had a smile for his customers, according to the paper. He was also active in the community of Pokemon Go enthusiasts, who held a candlelight vigil near the site of his killing. 

Moscowitz was killed on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, which celebrates the conclusion and restarting of the annual cycle of public Torah readings. 

Johnson said Thursday that it was still too early to say for sure what the killer’s motive might be.

“My police acumen would just say to me, unless, God forbid that any more crimes of this nature are committed, but until we bring that individual in, we may not know that motive,” Johnson said

Officials released footage after the slayings that showed a suspect, dressed in black and wearing a ski mask over his face, running away from the scene of Watts’ death. The man had a distinctive run, his toes pointed outward as he fled. 

Johnson said detectives have pored over hours of video, knocking on doors and pursuing all leads they’ve received in the homicides. He credited the community with providing an enormous amount of input about the crimes. 

“The fact that we’ve received over 430 independent leads to support our ongoing investigation just goes to show how any investigative case must be built upon a strong connection with the community,” Johnson said. “However -- and I want to stress that -- however, we are still asking for more help.”

The chief said officials hoped that the large reward would encourage anyone with direct contact with or knowledge of the suspect to come forward. 

“Someone out there listening or watching right now knows who this person is, whether it be an acquaintance, a friend, a loved one or a relative,” Johnson said

The chief said people often are hesitant to come forward out of a desire not to get involved, out of fear or out of a reluctance to speak out against a friend or family member. 

“But you’re not helping when you do that,” Johnson said. “These types of crimes are heinous, and it’s unacceptable.”

Watch Thursday’s news conference below.

Detectives do not know where the suspect is, but they do not believe he has left the city. They believe he is from the Rogers Park community because he traveled on foot, the Sun-Times reported.  

“An honest answer is we don’t know where he is right now,” Johnson said Thursday. “He’s obviously laying low right now. He knows there’s a lot of pressure and he knows we are looking for him. So that’s not unnatural for them to kind of stop what they are doing at this time. But I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s moved out of Chicago or out of state.”

Anyone with information on the slayings is asked to call Area North detectives at 312-744-8261. Anonymous tips can be submitted at CPDtip.com

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

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Washington Insider

  • As reporters, politicians, legal experts, and members of both political parties spent the weekend going over the impact of the 448 page redacted version of the Mueller Report, it was obvious from the political and legal reactions that the fight over what Russia did in the 2016 elections - and how the Trump Campaign and President Donald Trump dealt with that - was not going to be ending anytime soon. 'There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians,” President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani told CNN's 'State of the Union' on Sunday, as Republicans continue to press the case that the Mueller Report absolves the President of any and all wrongdoing. 'We need to go back and look at how this fake “Russia Collusion” narrative started,' said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), as Republicans looked to move on from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and to focus on investigating the investigators. Meanwhile, Democrats were mulling over their own options, which certainly seem to include more hearings in Congress on what was revealed by the Mueller Report, tugging the story in the exact opposite direction. Democrats pointed to comments from Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who said the Mueller Report showed a 'pervasiveness of dishonesty' inside the Trump White House. Here's some things which may get some attention in the weeks and months ahead: 1. GOP still wants answers on the Steele Dossier. If you were looking for the Special Counsel's office to detail how the Steele Dossier had factored into the Russia investigation, there was precious little in the Mueller Report. The dossier was directly mentioned 14 times, but there was no mention of it contributing anything directly to the findings of the report. The Special Counsel report says nothing about the dossier as the reason for starting a counter-intelligence investigation, instead making clear that it was information from Trump Campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos which was the genesis. 'On July 31, 2016, based on the foreign government rep01ting, the FBI opened an investigation into potential coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign,' the report states on page 14. But the Mueller Report does not address one key question - was the Steele Dossier just another effort by Moscow to disrupt the 2016 elections? This is where Republicans say they want answers - they can hold hearings in the U.S. Senate, if they wish. 2. Michael Cohen again demands retraction over Prague story. 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