Chicago mayor’s neighbor killed woman with baseball bat, dumped her in the alley: prosecutors say

CHICAGO — A man who lives across the street from Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson was held without bail Tuesday after prosecutors accused him of beating a woman to death with a baseball bat inside his home and dumping her body in the alley.

Arnel Smith, 64, is charged with first-degree murder and concealing a homicidal death.

A medical examiner who handled the 41-year-old victim’s case said they had “never seen so many injuries on someone’s body,” Assistant State’s Attorney Anne McCord said during Smith’s bail hearing.

Smith met the woman once about a year ago, then happened to cross paths with her again at a Citgo gas station around 5 a.m. on Friday.

Arnel Smith is accused of murdering a woman with a baseball bat inside his home across the street from Mayor Brandon Johnson’s house. | Google; Twitter; Chicago Police Department

The two rode a CTA bus back to Smith’s home in the 5700 block of West Superior. There, they smoked crack and the woman performed a sex act, according to McCord.

Afterward, said McCord, Smith accused the woman of stealing money and would not let her leave until she paid him what he believed he was owed.

The altercation turned violent.

Smith beat the woman with a baseball bat and stabbed her with broken pottery until she died, McCord alleged.

After the murder, Smith allegedly smoked some more crack, wrapped the woman’s body in a comforter, and dragged her to an alley. Surveillance video showed him trying to place the body into a dumpster, but he was “physically unable” to complete the task, so he left her on the ground, McCord said.

Later, another neighbor saw the comforter as they returned from picking up pizza. Believing that a body might be hidden inside, they kicked the blanket and discovered the woman.

Chicago police honed in on Smith after discovering the security footage. Officers executed a search warrant on Smith’s home. Cops saw dried blood on Smith when he opened the door, McCord said. Inside the house, they allegedly found bloody clothing, a bloody bat, and broken ceramic covered with blood.

McCord said he gave investigators “multiple stories” about what happened and how he injured his hand. He eventually claimed that a car dropped off the body and his hand injury came from a lawn mower accident.

Later, Smith said the victim attacked him with broken pottery and tried to hit him.

But the medical examiner found over 100 injuries on the woman’s head, scalp, and face alone, McCord explained. The injuries, she said, were not consistent with someone defending themselves.

Smith has no criminal background and has been employed his entire life after earning a degree in childhood development, his lawyer said. He has worked for a child daycare center for the past five years. In his spare time, the lawyer said, he plays and sings in a blues and jazz band.

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