It has not been reported yet that the seven women whose bodies were found since Friday in Indiana were involved in high-risk lifestyles. But many in the Chicago and northern Indiana area remember the 1990s reign of terror from killers who targeted such women.
At least four men arrested in Chicago during that time--Gregory Clepper, Geoffrey Griffin, Hubert Geralds and Andre Crawford--were linked to the deaths of women in high-risk lifestyles who were often found in abandoned buildings. The women had often become lost to their families and were not reported missing.
Some women who survived the Chicago scourge appear in a documentary called "Turning A Corner," by the "PART" network of survivors and public agencies in 2006. The film was produced by Salome Chasnoff of Beyondmedia as part of a Chicago Coalition for the Homeless campaign and efforts to enact legislative change.
One woman in the film says nothing could break her addiction to the high-risk lifestyle of sex work until a "john" dragged her two blocks with his car while fleeing the police and she almost lost an eye and had her face "nearly scraped off." Another woman's wake up call happened, she says, when her friend was found dead in a nearby alley--and sexually mutilated. A third woman in the film says, "If I risk a date again, I'll use, and if I use, I'll die," referring to a drug habit.
Drugs are both a lure and the downfall for women on the streets say many sources. In 1996, a woman told the Chicago Tribune that her cousin, who was murdered, "would get high with anybody." The woman who spoke to the Tribune said she knew the suspect in her cousin's murder and even had used drugs with him herself. "I didn't know he would kill her," she added.
Murderers who seek out women in high-risk lifestyles are not limited to the US. Eight years ago, at least five women were found murdered within ten days of each other in Ipswich, England. In 2007, in Vancouver, British Columbia, pig farmer Robert Pickton was convicted of the second-degree murders of six women and charged in the deaths of 20 more, many who had been involved in high-risk lifestyles.
Women become victims by Martha Rosenberg
Even online contacts have proved deadly for such women. Masseuse Julissa Brisman was killed in 2009, allegedly by medical student Philip Markoff who had seen her ad on Craig's list. Markoff, who was also suspected of robbing two other women, took his own life in jail. Women who hook up online are at risk of being robbed, cheated, raped, knifed, shot, beaten up, extorted, abducted and murdered just like women on the street.
"Lost women" addicted to drugs and on the streets are not throwaway women. They need methods of harm reduction and safe houses to protect them from perpetrators. Luckily, Hammond, Indiana police say they have a person of interest in custody.
(Article changed on October 20, 2014 at 13:21)