CHICAGO -- The tragic cycle of youthful violence that claimed the lives of 14-year-old Shavon Dean and Robert Sandifer Jr., the hardened 11-year-old suspect in her murder, came full circle yesterday as Chicago police charged two teen-age brothers in the boy's execution.
Early yesterday morning, detectives arrested Craig Hardaway, 16, and his unidentified 14-year-old brother at their home in Roseland, a community of ramshackle frame houses on Chicago's South Side. First-degree murder charges were filed against the pair in the killing of young Sandifer, whose body was found Thursday morning in a bloody mud puddle under a pedestrian viaduct less than a mile from his home.
Identified as members of the Black Disciples street gang, the two brothers allegedly shot the younger boy on orders of a superior in the organization, police said. One of the brothers already has confessed to the crime, said Police Cmdr. Earl Nevels, who is heading the investigation into the deaths of both youths.
Young Sandifer was killed because he "had brought too much heat on the gang, and they feared that he might expose and
implicate higher-ups," Mr. Nevels said.
Even as relatives and friends of the slain girl mourned at her funeral yesterday and prayed that her death might galvanize gang members into reconsidering their lives, police said the Black Disciples' use of adolescents as triggermen has become a common feature of gang life here.
There are 5,000 Black Disciples members throughout the city, said George Knox, director of the National Gang Crime Research Center at Chicago State University. Of that number, 20 percent are under the age of 13, while most of the gang's "ministers" -- those who run its decentralized fiefdoms -- are in their 30s or 40s, Mr. Knox said.
"It's tragedy upon tragedy upon tragedy," said Cook County State's Attorney Jack O'Malley, commenting on the tender ages of the suspects and their victims.
Young Sandifer, known as "Yummy," had bragged about his affiliation with the Black Disciples since he was 10, neighbors said. Similarly, the two brothers who allegedly killed him had become members at 10, a law enforcement official said.
Young Hardaway had no criminal record until this year, when he was arrested in a series of incidents. In May, according to officials, he was released by a juvenile judge after he was charged with attempted murder, discharging a firearm, aggravated battery and armed violence. A month earlier he had been placed on probation for auto theft and had also been arrested for narcotics distribution.
Detectives and neighbors said that in the two days after a stray shot believed to have come from young Sandifer's gun killed Shavon during a drive-by shooting, the 11-year-old had been on the run.
Shepherded among safe houses and vacant dwellings by older gang members, the boy thought his friends were "going to get him out of town," Mr. Nevels said.
Thursday after midnight, young Sandifer was driven by three Black Disciples to the darkened, graffiti-marred viaduct and coaxed out of the car.
"He had no idea what was about to happen," Mr. Nevels said.
Saying nothing, Mr. Nevels said, young Hardaway allegedly fired a .25-caliber handgun twice into the back of the boy's head.