Year later, young man’s murder still brings pain, but no arrests
By Brian Stanley Bstanley@stmedianetwork.com July 6, 2012 11:08PM
Grandmother Lois Bush with photos of her grandson Anthony Fearn who was murdered on July 9, 2011 as a bystander in Joliet and the photos were taken at her home on Friday, July 6, 2012. | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 9, 2012 9:27AM
JOLIET — Lois Bush has an infinite number of emotional reasons for missing her grandson in the year since his murder.
She also has some practical ones.
“If he was available, Anthony would drive his twin sisters to where they had to go (like) school or practice,” said Bush, who works and has multiple sclerosis. “It really helped me out.”
Besides attending Joliet West High School, Anthony Fearn also worked part time at Kohls, and Bush recalled several times the boy she’d raised since he was 6 years old would say, “Hey ‘Mee-ma’ I got a little money, let’s go out and get something to eat,” to raise her spirits.
About 12:45 a.m. July 9, 2011, Fearn, 18, some buddies and “a girl he’d started talking to” arrived at a late-night party at the KO Zone boxing club on Cass Street near Arch Court.
But the club decided to close early when Vice Lords and Gangster Disciples began creating a disturbance near the entryway. Fearn, who had no gang connections, would get killed for being in the wrong crowd.
Gang members across the street started shouting slogans toward the club, when witnesses said one man took out a handgun and started firing blindly. Fleeing with the other bystanders Fearn was struck twice and made it about 40 feet down the sidewalk of Arch Court before he died at the scene.
Police have questioned suspects. Sources said the case has been brought before a grand jury, but police Cmdr. Brian Benton said no arrest warrants have been issued to charge Anthony Fearn’s killer.
“When a year passes, it starts to be considered a cold case,” Benton admitted, “But Detective Shawn Filipiak has been working this one pretty exhaustively.”
Investigators have submitted more than 40 follow-up reports on the Fearn homicide in the past 12 months, but there is frustration no one who was outside the club has come forward with a positive identification.
“Anthony Fearn was a bright young man with a promising future, which was cut short due to another senseless act of violence,” Benton said. “Maybe an anniversary will prompt someone’s conscience.”
‘Little big brother’
Lois Bush is disappointed the investigation hasn’t progressed, and Ron Hill always asks for an update when he encounters an officer. Ron Hill and his brother, James, own the SUDA Mixed Martial Arts Academy and served as mentors to the “little big brother” they hoped would one day take over the school.
“He was a frail little boy of 9 when I brought him to the park district (class) because I didn’t want anybody to pick on him,” Lois Bush remembered.
Under the Hills’ discipline and mentoring, Fearn blossomed into a fighter who rarely lost and became an assistant instructor.
He was considered “the little big brother” — the youngest fighter who could challenge the adults, while still goofing around with the kids.
A banner hangs in memory of Anthony at the gym, and Ron Hill expects there will be a prayer and a moment of silence before classes Monday night, but they will “try to keep it upbeat.”
“He’s always been on our minds over the last year because whatever we do is an opportunity that he’s missing,” he said.
Family tries to carry on
Three weeks after Anthony Fearn was gunned down, his aunt, Dandrea Bush, died from a medical condition.
“Now I’m looking after her daughter, who’s 6, just like Anthony was when he started living with me,” Lois Bush said. Fearn’s sisters, Keyana and Breyana Hopkins, are 13.
His 2-year-old brother, Adam Jenkins, died last month from a cardiac condition, shortly after Lois Bush purchased headstones for her daughter and grandson.
A mix-up over bronze and granite means Fearn’s grave at Amherst Cemetery will not be marked when she visits for the anniversary of his death.
Not that Bush really wants to admit the young man is gone forever.
“I’m still waiting on him to come home,” she said before starting to cry.
Anyone with information about the death of Anthony Fearn can call Detective Filipiak at 815-724-3023 or anonymously call Crimestoppers at 800-323-6734.