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Family seeks answers after 8th grader’s murder

Rocio Alvarado wonders if anyone will be charged with the shooting death of her 14-year-old brother.

Alejandro Jaime's younger brother and cousin share a hug outside the family's home. (Photo credit: Sophia Nahli)
Alejandro Jaime’s younger brother Victor and his cousin Jorge Lopez share a hug outside the family’s home. (Photo credit: Sophia Allison)

An unknown assailant shot Alejandro “Alex” Jaime May 18, 2012, as he rode his bike with a friend near his family’s home in Brighton Park just two weeks before the family had planned to move to a safer neighborhood.

Alvarado, 24, says her family has heard frustratingly little from the Chicago Police Department since Alex’s death a year ago, and what they do know comes from the calls they make to detectives.

“In the first few months, we had to contact them. There’s a lack of communication,” Alvarado says. “They would say, ‘The reason I don’t call you so much is that we don’t have any leads.’”

No one from the police department would comment specifically about Alex’s case, though Adam Collins, director of News Affairs, said in an e-mail, “Our policy on homicide cases is that detectives are required to reach out to victims’ families one month after the incident, then six months and one year after the incident – at the minimum.”

Since her brother’s murder it has been up to the family to reach out to detectives, not the other way around, Alvarado says. Typically, she says, it takes several calls from her or another family member before a detective calls back. She says the family did not hear from anyone six months after Alex’s death, nor did they get a call around the one-year anniversary.

Alvarado and her family say they’ve lost confidence in the police department and question the city’s commitment to finding Alex’s killer.

“Are they even doing anything?” Alvarado says with a raised voice. “They haven’t figured anything out; obviously, they don’t have any leads.”

Victoria Alvarez, 48, says her experience with police after her son’s death has been upsetting and disheartening.

“It seems like they’re missing the want and need to do their jobs,” Alvarez says. “They should be able to be more hands-on in cases like this.”

A detective assigned to Alex’s case said he could not give a comment, citing department policy.

Alejandro Jaime
A photo of Alejandro Jaime next to some mementos the family has preserved. (Photo credit: Sophia Nahli)

Alvarado says a shooting occurred on the corner of their street less than a year before Alex was gunned down, spurring the family to begin planning their move even before he was killed. They left their Brighton Park apartment a few weeks after Alex’s murder but continued contacting the detectives assigned to his case.

“I called them and called them, but they were always out of the office,” Alvarado says.

Alex was just weeks away from finishing his 8th grade year at Calmeca Academy, where he played on the soccer and baseball teams.

“He wasn’t great at school, but he’d never miss out on school. Unless he was sick, he would always be there,” Alvarez says as she looks through family photographs showing Alex as a newborn, surrounded by his siblings.

“I have faith the case will get resolved, but not from them,” she says, adding the family is considering hiring a private detective.

One of Alex’s older brothers – Fernando Alvarado, 26 – is a concessions worker at City Hall, so he comes in contact with police officers, aldermen and other city officials, whom he doesn’t hesitate to consult. He even tried to get a co-worker’s husband, a detective in the department, assigned to Alex’s case, but he works in a different police district.

Rocio Alvarado says one of the few times a detective initiated contact with the family, it was to relay information about an opportunity to appear on Crime Stoppers Case Files, a television show that highlights cold cases. Earlier this year, the family participated in the filming of an episode, which has not aired yet.

“I don’t want to put my hopes up because I don’t want to be let down,” she says. “I just hope it will lead somewhere.”

She and her family have become closer than ever since Alex’s death, even moving back in to one house together many miles away from where Alex was killed.

“We see how important we are to each other,” Rocio Alvarado says. “We’re really lucky.”

Victoria Alvarez
Alejandro Jaime’s mother, Victoria Alvarez, looks at photos of her son, who was killed last May. (Photo credit: Sophia Nahli)

She says her brother was popular around the family’s former neighborhood and had no enemies. This is one of the reasons why she and her family are so frustrated with the lack of information.

“Everyone knew him around our house, but no one has stepped up and said anything,” she says.

Alvarez said she and her family will always feel the pain of losing Alex, but they hope the killer is found and convicted so they can have some closure.

“We still want to know who did this; that’s all we want,” Alvarez says. “But still, it’s emptiness that will never be filled even if that were to happen.”

This story is part of a week-long series about homicides in Chicago. ChicagoTalks, a news outlet operated by Columbia College’s Journalism Department, undertook a semester-long investigation of the topic funded with a grant from The Chicago Community Trust. ChicagoTalks is publishing additional stories throughout the week. If you have questions or comments, please e-mail project editor Suzanne McBride at smcbride@colum.edu.

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