The FBI hoped his arrest would encourage hate crime victims to come forward. We’re not so sure that’s going to happen.

After a stranger attacked an Asian man at the Argyle Red Line station and called him racial slurs this summer, the Chicago Police Department released photos of a suspect and asked the public to help identify him.

The FBI issued its own bulletin on September 14 and said the attack may have been a hate crime. They encouraged anyone with information about the man to contact federal authorities.

Kenneth Ray (inset) in 2015 and CTA surveillance images of the attack suspect | CPD; FBI

Last week, there was a break in the case. Chicago police said they caught the guy, 33-year-old Kenneth Ray. He had been charged with two counts of felony aggravated battery and would appear in bond court Friday, police said in a media statement.

But Ray never showed up in bond court. Instead, he walked out of the Cook County Jail that day, and nobody knows where he is. How it happened is not clear. But something is clear: Nobody noticed he was gone until CWBChicago started asking questions about him Monday.

An attack

Around 1:15 p.m. on August 15, a man wearing a White Sox hat and distinctive jewelry followed a 30-year-old Asian man into the Argyle station and struck him in the head from behind, causing the victim to fall, police said.

When the victim asked why the man attacked him, the offender said he deserved it and used an ethnic slur against the victim and his partner, the FBI later said.

The bureau’s Chicago field office decided to publicize the attack “in hopes of encouraging members of vulnerable populations to report crimes.”

An arrest

Chicago police eventually identified Ray as the attacker, although how investigators arrived at that conclusion is not known. Detectives arrested him last Wednesday, September 29, at the Cook County jail.

Ray had been in jail since August 25, when he was charged with trespassing at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He was apparently unable to raise the $1,000 a judge ordered him to post for failing to appear in court for a pending retail theft case plus another $500 for allegedly violating the terms of a recognizance bond he received in a battery case last March, according to court records.

In the March incident, two men said Ray punched them in their faces without provocation while shopping at a Walgreens in Andersonville. The men were unable to help prosecutors pursue felony charges in March due to Passover, according to a note in CPD’s arrest report.

Last Thursday, prosecutors dropped the hospital trespassing matter, and Judge Daniel Gallagher sentenced Ray to six months conditional discharge for the battery case.

The next day — the day CPD said he would be in felony bond court on the Argyle Red Line attack charges — Ray had another court date in Skokie at 9 a.m. According to court records, he appeared via Zoom and received a sentence of 10 days time served for the shoplifting charge.

But Ray’s name is not on the list of defendants who appeared during Friday’s felony bond court session, which began at noon, documents from the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender show.

Instead, Ray was released from custody and walked out of jail on Friday evening because he had no other active cases in the system, a sheriff’s office spokesperson said.

But how?

He’s gone

Cook County prosecutors approved felony charges in the Argyle attack against Ray late last week, according to two CPD spokespersons who CWBChicago contacted on Monday. They confirmed that he was supposed to appear during Friday’s felony bond court hearing.

We also contacted the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office on Monday to confirm the details of the case. A spokesperson for Kim Foxx’s office told us to check with the court clerk’s office.

We did. There is no case filed against Kenneth Ray for the Argyle attack. So we contacted the state’s attorney’s office again to ask if they had approved charges and brought Ray before a judge for a bond hearing. They did not respond to that email or a third request for information Monday.

So, as of Monday night, the person Chicago police say attacked an Asian man in a case that the FBI said might be a hate crime is somewhere out there. Nobody knows where. And Foxx’s office is not providing clarity.

It remains to be seen if this fiasco will help the FBI reach its goal of “encouraging members of vulnerable populations to report crimes.”

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