Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Women Who Kill: Part Two

The South Side Slayers

Angela Ford Wright
Angela Ford Wright

On May 23, 2004, Jose Marquez, 38, was found dead in his South Side Chicago home. He had been shot to death in the back of the head. A week later, Kenneth Redick, 37, was similarly discovered murdered in his home. Then more than two weeks passed, according to Chief Tactical, before a third man, Kevin Armstrong, 24, was killed in a parking lot. Apparently he had been gunned down after leaving a currency exchange. Money was always taken from the victims, from $30 to $200. No link was found among the victims, and there were no clear leads. Whether the Chicago police had a serial killer was not yet clear, but two detectives went to work on it. June would pass into July before they fully connected the dots.

A fourth victim, 30-year-old Ayesha Epps, was found in a South Side alley, shot in the back of the head. She had been a friend of Caroline Peoples, 26, who was also linked to one of the other victims, a man she used to date. And she was linked to another woman, Angela Ford Wright (the Chicago Sun Times reports her name as Wright-Ford), also 26, who also knew two of the victims. She had been romantically involved with Redick, and was a health care aide for Marquez. Neither woman apparently knew Armstrong — or at least their association with him has not been clarified. He appears to have been at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Caroline Peoples
Caroline Peoples

The women's arrest was announced on July 3, the day after Epps was found. Detective William Filipiak, who with Detective Eileen Heffernan cracked the case, told news sources that both had made videotaped confessions to the crimes. They were charged with four counts of first-degree murder and four counts of armed robbery. Like Aileen Wuornos, a Florida-based serial killer from 1990, they allegedly had used the promise of sex to lure the men, but they had intended instead to rob and kill them.

The fourth victim, Epps, was apparently shot during an argument.

No weapon has been recovered and neither woman has a prior criminal record.

These crimes echo the work of two females who carried out more than 100 violent robberies in Chicago during the 1890s, according to The Chronicle of Crime by Martin Fido. The police referred to them as "the Kitty and Jennie Gang," and they managed to keep their spree going for at least seven years.

Book cover: The Chronicle of Crime
Book cover: The Chronicle of

Kitty Adams worked as a white prostitute in a black brothel and was known as the "Terror of State Street," for her ability to use a razor. Jennie Clark was younger, and together they apparently devised a game in which Jennie would lure men into an alley for sex. Instead, those johns found a knife at their throats, wielded by Kitty, who demanded that they turn over their money if they wanted to live.

One man identified them and turned them in to the police, but the case was dismissed by a judge who decided that men who were foolish enough to put themselves in that position in that area of town had gotten what they deserved. According to Fido, the two women returned to their game.

While there was no evidence that they killed any of these men, the MO is similar: lure men with what will make them vulnerable and then take advantage.

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