The murder of 18-year-old Jailyn Logan-Bledsoe is the top priority of the Oak Park Police Department, Interim Police Chief Shatonya Johnson told the village board at its June 27 meeting.
“Detectives are reviewing information from the crime scene and surrounding areas,” said Johnson said, who called the murder “senseless.”
While asking for patience from the community, the interim chief said police are working diligently to arrest the individuals responsible for the young woman’s death.
Johnson said she is “committed to keeping the community updated” without “compromising the integrity of investigation.” Additional police resources have been deployed to the area, according to Johnson.
The Oak Park village board was flooded with heart wrenching letters from the community begging for justice for Logan-Bledsoe, an OPRF student and activist whose family had long Oak Park connections. Her body was discovered by police in the parking lot of the BP gas station at 100 Chicago Ave. at 1:45 a.m., June 22.
Logan-Bledsoe, who lived in the 100 block of North Austin Boulevard, was transported to Loyola University Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. Her official cause of death, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, was listed as a gunshot wound to the neck.
Logan-Bledsoe’s grandmother, Phyliss Logan, is vice-president of the West Side NAACP. That chapter organized a gathering at the gas station early Saturday which was part prayer circle, part conversation with representatives of the station’s owners and part protest.
Some two dozen people, mostly NAACP members, were at the event as was Oak Park Village President Vicki Scaman. Deborah Williams, an NAACP member, said Tuesday morning that a follow up meeting is planned between Scaman, Karl Brinson, NAACP chapter and BP owners.
Athena Williams, executive director of the Oak Park Regional Housing Center, said her organization has offered to host that meeting as part of its mission to bring Austin and Oak Park people together for honest conversations.
Deborah Williams said those gathered Saturday asked the station owners to reduce their 24-hour service, to add security guards, possibly armed, to upgrade security cameras and add signage.
Deborah Williams said that Jailyn Logan-Bledsoe had been “raised around us” in the NAACP branch. She said Logan-Bledsoe had helped run the phone room the chapter organized around the 2020 census. “This really hit close to us,” she said.
Athena Williams shared with the Journal a message received from Phyliss Logan,
“We want and need to take our time to grieve and understand what happened. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers,” wrote Logan.
At the June 27 village board meeting, 18 Oak Park residents submitted or read passionate statements during the first hour of the board’s meeting. The powerful public comments left many in tears, including Village Clerk Christina Waters, who was tasked with reading some of the letters, and Oak Park Sustainability Coordinator Marcella Bondie-Keenan, who was there to present an update on the village’s climate action plan.
Scaman gave her “sincerest condolences” to Logan-Bledsoe’s family and friends.
“I am working with colleagues local and state, and will continue to listen to residents, to consider all options for safety at gas stations,” she said. “The discussion of overnight gas stations has been an ongoing dialogue before this extremely tragic incident.”
A witness reportedly told police two men approached Logan-Bledsoe from behind, fired one shot, took items from her and then fled in her dark Chrysler vehicle, according to a news release from the Village of Oak Park. The police department has not responded to Wednesday Journal regarding whether or not security footage from the gas station or nearby areas had been obtained by police.
Logan-Bledsoe was a student at Oak Park and River Forest High School and part of the class of 2022. She was also a former member of the student-led organization Revolutionary Oak Park Youth Action League (ROYAL).
ROYAL posted a brief tribute about Logan-Bledsoe on Facebook, calling her a “fierce and brilliant young leader” who cared about her community. Cynthia Brito, an OPRF parent who oversees ROYAL and knew Logan-Bledsoe, said the young woman was courageous, confident, bold and unafraid to speak her mind.
Activism aside, Logan-Bledsoe was also a dog lover, a writer and like most teens, enjoyed hanging out with friends, Brito said.
“She unconditionally loved her friends, and they loved her back. They could count on her, so it’s a huge loss for them,” Brito added.
Anthony Clark, a special education teacher at OPRF and community activist, said he knew Logan-Bledsoe as a student and described her as charismatic — someone who had an “exuberant, uplifting” spirit. Clark said Logan-Bledsoe had an irrepressible sense of humor, often keeping the jokes rolling whenever they interacted.
High school District 200 released a statement and encouraged staff and students who may be in distress to reach out to the school’s grief support team. Those interested should contact counselor Joe Herbst at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Please keep Jailyn’s family in your thoughts during this difficult time,” the district said.
The West Suburban Major Crimes Task Force is assisting the Oak Park Police Department in the investigation. Anyone with information related to the shooting should contact the police department at 708-386-3800. Those interested in providing information anonymously can do so through the village of Oak Park website at oak-park.us/crimetip or calling 708-434-1636.
Education reporter F. Amanda Tugade contributed to this report.