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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nailah Franklin: Update

Update: Latest updates here, here, here, and here.
This is the latest in a series of continuing updates on the fate of Nailah Franklin, the lovely young Chicago woman recently murdered by an unknown (as yet) assailant. Franklin triggered an enormous outpouring of attention - unprecedented, for a black woman - when her family reported her missing and sought the assistance of the public in finding her. To find all posts about Nailah Franklin, type "Nailah Franklin" in the box at the top left corner of this page and hit RETURN. To find all posts about Reginald Potts, type "Reginald Potts" and do not include his middle initial or honorifics. Thanks.

At present, very little has been reported about the search for her murderer. May they find him soon. Look at that lovely face. What kind of heartless monster could take the life of such a talented, intelligent, spirited, beautiful young woman with so much promise and so much to live for?

Nailah's body was found naked and partially buried in a deeply wooded area behind a vacant building on Thursday, September 27th. The discovery took place some miles from where police found her car Saturday, September 22nd in nearby Hammond, Indiana. As a result of exposure to rain and heat, the body was so badly decomposed that it could not be identified, initially. After obtaining Nailah's dental records, the body was identified on Friday, 28th September. Nailah had been reported missing on September 19th.

An autopsy performed by the Cook County medical examiner's office did not reveal a cause of death, but a law enforcement source said she was not shot or stabbed. According to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago police have not ruled the case a homicide. WHAT??? It's highly unlikely that she would have removed her clothes, walked to the area where her body was found, committed suicide, and then very considerately buried her own remains. What do they mean, not a homicide? I suppose she could have been killed in an accident, but in that case, why leave her earphones dangling in a tree close to the location of the body?

Chicago police are supposedly the lead investigators in the case because authorities don't know where Nailah died. They are currently testing forensic evidence from the scene where her body was found and from her car. They are also reviewing videotapes from a location across the street from where her body was found.

Friends apparently spoke with Franklin on Tuesday, September 18th. However, on the evening of Tuesday, September 18th, three people tried to reach her: a family member, her boyfriend, and her boss (apparently to discuss a meeting the next day). In response, she apparently sent all three a vague text message saying she was going to dinner and would call them later. They didn't hear from her again.

The following day, September 19th, Franklin didn't show up for a "ride-along" meeting with one of her sales managers. Apparently, she was a reliable and punctual person, and failing to show up for a meeting, or calling to let her manager know she would not be there, was uncharacteristic enough that the company contacted her family. Aware of the earlier threats against her life, her family reported her missing to Chicago police Sept. 19.

On September 21, after word of Franklin's disappearance spread, a man found Franklin's car parked near an abandoned building in Hammond, and reported it to police. Shortly thereafter, police apparently found some of Franklin's jewelry near a golf course 3 miles away.

Franklin's family subsequently announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to finding Franklin or catching whoever was responsible for her disappearance. Once Franklin's body was identified, the family announced that the Nailah O. Franklin Memorial Fund at The Chicago Community Trust will make grants to prevent violence and guide young people's educational and social development.

The man in the inset is Reginald Potts, also of Chicago, who briefly dated Nailah Franklin, and was accused by her of threatening her, possibly even threatening her life.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Potts has a criminal past which includes car theft and escaping from FBI custody. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Potts was taken into custody by the FBI after allegedly threatening a police officer and his family. Potts has two children with his wife, from whom he is now separated, and a child with another woman. Both his wife and the mother of his other child have taken out restraining orders against him for issues having to do with child visitation. When Maywood police arrested Potts, 30, for violating an order of protection obtained by a woman who accused Potts of choking her, pushing her and threatening her, and demanding that she pay an insurance bill for him, Potts resisted and struck a sheriff's deputy with his elbow, officials said.

Potts has not been charged with the murder of Franklin, nor have investigators named him as a person of interest or a suspect. However, his name was linked to the Franklin case when he was arrested for an unrelated matter recently. A BP security guard at a station near his home accused Potts of threatening him. Potts was charged with misdemeanor battery in that incident.

Since the death of Franklin, Potts has been arrested four times. He claims that the Chicago police are trying to rattle him. Potts claims that the alleged violation of the order of protection in DuPage County came after his sister inadvertently forwarded an e-mail Potts had written -- and sent to his family and friends -- to the woman who had the order of protection against him.

Interesting. Everything seems to happen to Mr. Potts. It is as if he is free of any agency in the troubles that occur in his life. Protection order violated? It's his sister's fault for inadvertantly forwarding an email he wrote. Someone complains about Mr. Potts' threatening attitude? The police are merely harassing Mr. Potts.

This doesn't mean he's guilty of Franklin's murder, of course. On the other hand, the same individual who claims he's not the type to lay hands on anyone is nevertheless arrested three times for threatening physical harm to someone else. And while his ex-girlfriend might be lying about him pushing and choking her, it's hard not to wonder why two of the three women he's been involved with lately have felt the need to take out restraining orders against Mr. Potts.

Another thing: when police suspect someone has committed a crime but have no evidence, or very little evidence, linking the suspect to the crime, they have a tendency to look for reasons to arrest someone, in the hope that the person will inadvertantly give themselves away. It's possible that that is what the police are doing in Mr. Potts' case. It's also possible that the police have simply decided that an innocent man is guilty and are, really, harrassing him.

Chicago Police had no comment on the arrests.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, 20,000 people are reported missing each year, in that city. Nailah O. Franklin was one of them. One of the unlucky ones. She ended up dead. Let us hope her murderer is soon found and brought to justice. He took from her family and community someone who had a great deal to give.

If you know anything at all about the murder of Nailah Franklin, please let the authorities know. She is sadly missed by many. You can visit Nailah Franklin's memorial web site here.

Update: Latest update here.

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