A Chicago family is devastated after a young mother and her father were discovered gunned down in the apartment they shared on the city's south side, a discovery that was made after the woman's toddler son answered a FaceTime call.
When 27-year-old Javonni Jenkins did not show up for work as a medical assistant at Holy Cross Hospital on Wednesday morning, friends and colleagues immediately became concerned. Co-worker Nicole Worth first tried reaching Jenkins on an apartment phone but never received an answer. Then, Worth tried placing a call to Jenkins through the FaceTime app, and the person who picked up on the other end gave Worth even more cause for concern.
Jenkins' 2-year-old son, CJ, dressed only in a diaper, somehow managed to answer the FaceTime call and began interacting with Worth.
"The whole time I had the baby on the phone, he was very content, playing with his toys," Worth stated. "Once I had that baby on the phone and after a certain amount of time of no parents calling the baby, you don't hear that — there's something wrong."
The anxious coworkers then rushed to the residence and contacted police to conduct a welfare check on the family. Police entered the apartment and handed CJ to the care of his mom's friends while they investigated the residence. What they found confirmed everyone's worst fears: Jenkins and her 79-year-old father, Curtis Hardman, had been gunned down in cold blood.
The boy appeared to be unharmed but was still taken to the hospital for precautionary examination.
"We came a little too late," Worth said regretfully. "We saved the baby. That’s all we could do."
Like Jenkins' colleagues at Holy Cross Hospital, Jenkins' family is shattered by the violent deaths.
Hardman's ex-wife, Cherry Hardman, said that the father and daughter were very close. Hardman had raised Jenkins after her mother died when she was very young. Though the marriage between Curtis and Cherry did not last, the two remained friends and lived just down the street from one another, she said.
"He was a good-hearted person," Cherry Hardman said. "He would help anybody. I could call him and say, 'Curtis, could you come and do this for me?' and he’d say, 'OK, give me a minute.' He helped anybody."
Angela Brooks, reportedly either Hardman's daughter or stepdaughter, called Hardman the kind of father "that every little girl dreamed of."
"I know my father died protecting my little sister. He was a hero," she added.
Worth remembers Jenkins as a woman with "a heart of gold" who "wore her heart on her sleeve." Brooks added that her sister "was a beautiful individual" who "loved being a mother."
Holy Cross Hospital CEO Dr. Ngozi Ezike has likewise released a statement: "On behalf of everyone at Holy Cross Hospital and the entire Sinai Chicago family, we send out our deepest condolences to Javonni's family. We ask everyone to keep them in your thoughts and prayers."
Worth said she saw Jenkins and CJ on Tuesday evening and did not have any concerns about their safety or welfare at the time. Police have not arrested anyone for the crime or publicly identified any persons of interest. However, Deputy Police Chief Sonora Ben stated that the shootings were likely an isolated incident and that she does not believe "the public should be concerned."