Smollett case update: “Threat letter” mailed from SW suburbs; “persons of interest” pix released to appease “downtown”; more

The threat letter to Smollett was mailed from Chicago’s southwest suburbs. | TMZ

Here’s an update on the Jussie Smollett case in which the star of Fox television’s Empire claimed that he was beaten in Streeterville early last Tuesday by two people who put a noose around his neck, poured a chemical on him, and lobbed anti-gay, anti-black slurs while shouting that Smollett was in “MAGA country,” a reference to Donald Trump’s 2016 “Make America Great Again” slogan.

• A source close to the investigation revealed that the purported threat letter against Smollett that was received days before the alleged attack was mailed from Chicago’s southwest suburbs. The envelope was addressed to Smollett at the Empire production offices in Chicago and had “MAGA” scrawled in the return address space. A white powder in the letter is believed to be Tylenol, according to other media reports. The investigation into the letter’s origins is being quietly conducted by the FBI.

The “potential persons of interest.” | CPD

• The two “potential persons of interest” seen in surveillance images released by Chicago police last week “are two bums,” according to a second source who is familiar with the investigation. “Downtown demanded that we put out something, so we issued the photos,” the source said. “They weren’t happy.”

• Subpoenas have been issued to ensure that phone records from Smollett and his music manager are received. The two claim that they were speaking with each other at the time of the attack and the manager, Brandon Z. Moore, claims he clearly heard racist slurs and “MAGA country” being said.

• Police have dismissed the claims of a woman who lives in Smollett’s building who reported seeing “rednecks” with rope in the area 90 minutes before the purported attack.

• After a vigorous performance Saturday night at an LA club, Smollett said that—against his lawyer’s wishes—he wanted to straighten some things out about his story. Contrary to the original TMZ report that Smollett “fractured a rib,” the singer said after performing on Saturday that his rib had only been “bruised.” He also stated that, despite the same TMZ report, he was never hospitalized—merely treated and released. Smollett failed to make those clarifications in an earlier list of clarifications released to TMZ. He then declared himself “the gay Tupac” and performed his encore.

Looks like he’s on the mend.
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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is