Man charged with killing girlfriend who was found dead in parked car

A woman found dead inside a parked car in Lakeview in May was killed by her boyfriend after she confronted him about infidelity, prosecutors said Sunday.

Police found 41-year-old Kendra Gardner’s body inside a gold Cadillac on the 3000 block of North Clifton after a passerby reported seeing an unresponsive person inside around 4 p.m. on May 26. CPD issued a missing person bulletin for Gardner earlier that day.

Manuel Thompson, Gardner’s boyfriend of about 10 years, owned the Cadillac, prosecutors said as they charged him with first-degree murder and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in front of Judge Arthur Willis.

Manuel Thompson and Kendra Gardner | CPD

The couple attended a party together in Markham on May 22 and were reportedly seen leaving together on surveillance footage. According to prosecutors, Thompson would later admit to fatally shooting Gardner as he drove on the expressway that night because she was upset that he cheated on her.

Gardner suffered gunshot wounds to her neck, left cheek, and the top of her head. Police allegedly found four shell casings inside the car with her body.

Surveillance video shows Gardner’s car arriving in the Lakeview area around 2:16 a.m. on May 24, prosecutors said. CTA camera footage shows Thompson at the nearby Wellington Brown Line station where he called a friend and asked them to have a Lyft come pick him up, prosecutors said.

The day after Gardner’s body was discovered, Thompson allegedly deleted his Facebook account and called a friend to say he had a new phone number and that he’d be leaving town. He never reported his car or Gardner missing, prosecutors said.

Police arrested Thompson at his South Shore home Friday. Prosecutors said he had a gun in his pants pocket, but it was a different caliber than the murder weapon.

Thompson’s defense attorney said he denies admitting to the crime and said he has been suffering from significant medical issues since 2013.

Judge Willis ordered Thompson held without bail.

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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 news@cwbchicago.com