CHICAGO - In the days before she was killed, 87-year-old Mae Brown allegedly argued with one of her daughters over money and called police when she wouldn’t leave.
The daughter, 68-year-old Shearly Gaines, later returned to Brown’s apartment and killed her as the mother sat in a wheelchair, prosecutors alleged Friday.
At a hearing on first-degree murder charges, Gaines used a walker to gingerly approach a computer to attend the live-streamed proceedings at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse and identified herself in a quiet voice.
Her mother’s body was discovered on Oct. 15 in her one-bedroom apartment on the 9th floor of the Lincoln Perry Apartments in the 3200 block of South Prairie Avenue. A younger daughter had failed to reach her and asked a maintenance worker to let her into her mother’s apartment, prosecutors said.
Brown had suffered several head wounds and the Cook County medical examiner’s office determined the injuries were caused by an assault and ruled her death a homicide.
Prosecutors, citing surveillance video from a camera positioned steps from the only door to Brown’s home, said Gaines was the only person seen entering or leaving the apartment during the time Brown is believed to have been killed.
Gaines was diagnosed with schizophrenia when she was 20, and Brown was the payee who received her daughter’s Social Security disability checks, prosecutors said.
Shearley Gaines, 69
On Oct. 12, police were called to Brown’s apartment twice — first by Gaines who reported her mother was stealing her disability payments, and then by Brown who she said her daughter refused to leave her home, prosecutors said.
The officers escorted Gaines from the building.
Surveillance footage shows Gaines returning to her mother’s apartment the next day, wearing a blue sweater and carrying a blue purse, according to prosecutors.
When Gaines’ younger sister spoke to their mother the night of Oct. 14, Brown told her that Gaines as still there. The younger daughter advised her mother to tell Gaines to leave, prosecutors said.
Gaines, identified on the surveillance footage by her younger sister, was seen leaving the apartment just before 7 a.m. on Oct. 15, hours before Brown’s body was found, according to prosecutors.
Gaines, who has been homeless for several years, was arrested Wednesday and was allegedly wearing the same clothes she was seen wearing in the surveillance footage from the apartment, prosecutors said.
When officers searched plastic bags attached to her walker, they found a dagger that was was "consistent with the wounds" Brown suffered, prosecutors said. She was charged with first-degree murder.
An assistant public defender told the judge that Gaines has "absolutely, positively no criminal background," and worked last Christmas "ringing a bell" for the Salvation Army.
She was unlikely to pose a risk to anyone if released pending trial, the attorney argued, noting that Gaines has great difficulty walking and suffers from arthritis.
Judge Charles Beach ordered Gaines held without bail and set her next hearing for Nov. 10.