Chicago neighbors say abandoned homes, buildings are magnet for crime after body found

There was a grisly discovery in a garage behind an abandoned home in the South Side Roseland neighborhood: a woman's body partially clothed.

Neighbors say it's one of the hazards of having so many abandoned buildings.

"I witnessed a lady slumped over in the alley in an abandoned garage. I told my husband 'we need to call the police!'" said Sheila Epps.

Epps and her husband spotted the body while driving down an alley near 104th and State around 8:45 Tuesday morning.

It was an unidentified woman--police say in her 40's--laying inside an open garage behind a vacant home.

"Her shirt was pulled up. Her pants, it's like the back of her pants, her butt was out. She didn't have no shoe on her right foot,” Epps said.

Neighbors say it's likely the woman either died in the location or was dumped overnight. They would have seen her earlier because the garage door has been missing for months.

"Well maybe about three months. There was a car in there. Whoever came and took it out. And they left it like that,” said neighbor John Willis.

It's one of several abandoned homes on the block in various states of decay. Roseland residents say it's a breeding ground for crime.

"I keep complaining about the same thing over and over again. I even tried to purchase the house next door to me so it wouldn't be abandoned. And there's no progress,” said neighbor Tiffany Walker.

Residents aren't the only ones frustrated with all the abandoned properties in this neighborhood. So is their alderman.

"I feel for my constituents because they have to live around it,” said Alderman Carrie Austin.

Austin estimates there are 800 abandoned homes in her ward alone and would like to see the city and the courts move more quickly to demolish the dangerous eyesores.

"Anything can happen in some of these buildings. They try to board them up. They take the boards down. I have squatters. It's jsut an enormous problem that we can't seem to get our hands around because we don't have enough funds,” Austin said.

Police say there are no obvious signs of trauma to the woman's body and until the medical examiner determines how she died, it's being considered a death investigation.

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