Breaking: Charges filed in summertime murder on the Magnificent Mile

Chicago police announced murder charges Wednesday against a man they believe killed a River North man as they crossed paths on the Magnificent Mile in June. Henry Graham, 49, has been arrested no fewer than nine times since 2017 on allegations that he battered or assaulted people on the street, mostly downtown and once just steps from where the murder occurred.

In fact, Graham was arrested last month after he allegedly struck a man with a pole or stick directly outside Wrigley Field. That incident was caught on video.

Graham is scheduled to appear for a detention hearing this week. We will post a fully updated story after prosecutors detail their allegations against him.

We first told you about the murder of 53-year-old Russ Long in August after some of his friends contacted CWBChicago to express concern with the way the Chicago Police Department had handled the attack.

We reported that Chicago police officers stopped the suspected killer within minutes of the attack but decided to let him go and then failed to file a report documenting the crime for days.

Henry Graham (center) is charged with murdering Russ Long (left) outside the Cartier store on Michigan Avenue on June 29, 2023. | Chicago Police Department; Provided; Google

At the time, the medical examiner’s investigation was still pending. But the office declared his death a homicide in October, saying he died from craniocerebral injuries he received in the assault.

Incredibly, on October 3, about a week before the results were announced, Graham was arrested on allegations that he attacked a man on the corner of Addison and Clark. A nearby Earthcam recorded the incident, and @cpd1617scanner posted the footage. Watch:

Murder on the Magnificent Mile

At about 3:45 p.m. on June 29, Long was walking on the 600 block of North Michigan Avenue. Exactly what happened on the sidewalk outside the Cartier store is a mystery.

What we do know is that a CPD spokesperson said the victim suffered blunt trauma to the head. We also reported this summer that 15 minutes after the attack, a CPD unit radioed that the offender was in custody outside a shopping mall in the 500 block of North Michigan. But they let him go.

“Yeah, the [witnesses] walked up on us, and he walked right up to the [squad] car,” one officer radioed from outside The Shops at North Bridge.

“Alrighty,” the dispatcher replied. “I got you guys holding that offender at 520 North Michigan.”

However, CPD arrest records show that the suspect was never taken to the station. Other records indicate that the police department didn’t even document the attack until July 2, four days after it happened.

People familiar with the situation said a police officer went to Northwestern Memorial Hospital shortly after the attack, but the officer left without filing a report because Long could not speak. Long, badly injured, was intubated and sedated.

Over the next four days, at least three people tried to file a report with CPD. Each was met with a different reason why the police department could not take a report, said a person familiar with the requests.

Eventually, on July 2, a friend of Long’s called 911 from his hospital bedside and asked for an officer to come to Northwestern to take a report. The city’s call taker again refused to send an officer because Long could not speak, but eventually relented and dispatched a car.

Only then did CPD begin documenting and investigating what happened to Long. According to sources familiar with the matter, Area Three detectives started pursuing the case immediately. Long died ten days later.

Several individuals inside and outside of CPD told CWBChicago that, upon receiving the report, the department immediately realized something went wrong on the day of the attack. Two said the attack occurred when cops were changing shifts, but they did not know if that played a role in the matter.

A Chicago police spokesperson said in August that the department’s Bureau of Internal Affairs had launched an investigation into how the case was handled in those early moments.

Multiple sources said Chicago police knew the identity of the man cops detained and released after the attack. The department is “quite familiar” with him, said one.

Previous cases

CPD has had other challenges with murder cases that began with victims suffering head injuries in assaults.

In January 2022, a California man hit his head on the pavement after someone assaulted him outside a bar near Wrigley Field.

Officers in the Town Hall (19th) Police District’s surveillance operations center located footage that showed an apparent fight breaking out and Sergio Ontiveros being pushed to the ground, according to CPD radio traffic. After Ontiveros was down, other people arrived, picked through his pockets, and left the area before the cops arrived.

Ontiveros, 51, succumbed to head and brain injuries eight days later. He was the father of one of Motown legend Smokey Robinson’s granddaughters.

While the Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled Ontiveros’ death a homicide within weeks, CPD didn’t switch its classification of the case from aggravated battery to murder for another 15 months, records show. Long’s case is still not listed as a homicide in the city’s crime database.

In an infamous example, the nephew of former Mayor Richard Daley was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for punching a man who fell and struck his head on a curb during a fight near the Division Street nightlife district in 2004.

The case was swept under the rug until the Sun-Times published an exposé in 2011. A Cook County judge soon named a special prosecutor, former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb, to investigate the matter, and Richard “RJ” Vanecko pleaded guilty three years later.

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About Tim Hecke 291 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is tim@cwbchicago.com