LARGEST RE­WARD IN CITY HIS­TORY OF­FERED IN HUNT FOR ROGERS PARK KILLER

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY MITCHELL ARMENTROUT, STAFF RE­PORTER mar­men­trout@sun­times.com | @mitchtrout

With the in­ves­ti­ga­tion stalled more than a month af­ter a pair of spree killings in Rogers Park, po­lice and com­mu­nity groups on Thurs­day an­nounced a $150,000 re­ward for in­for­ma­tion lead­ing them to the gun­man who has left the North Side neigh­bor­hood on edge.

Chicago Po­lice Supt. Ed­die John­son said au­thor­i­ties hope the largest re­ward of­fered in any crime probe in the city’s his­tory will en­cour­age any­one who might have in­ter­acted with the killer to help them solve the puz­zling mur­ders of Dou­glass Watts and Eliyahu Moscowitz.

“The Rogers Park com­mu­nity, along with the en­tire city of Chicago, was rocked by the sense­less mur­ders that took place here just over five weeks ago,” John­son said at the Loy­ola Park field house. “Some­one out there right now knows who this per­son is, whether it be an ac­quain­tance, a friend, a rel­a­tive or a loved one.

“We are us­ing ev­ery re­source at our dis­posal to find the in­di­vid­ual re­spon­si­ble,” John­son said. “And we will not stop un­til we have this sus­pect in cus­tody.”

De­tec­tives have re­ceived more than 430 tips and are still fol­low­ing sev­eral leads, ac­cord­ing to John­son, but with­out more help from the pub­lic, the case could stay cold.

The first killing hap­pened on a Sun­day morn­ing, just af­ter 10 a.m. Sept. 30 as Watts, 73, walked his dogs just steps away from his home in the 1400 block of West Sher­win Ave.

About 36 hours later, on Oct. 1, Moscowitz was alone play­ing Poke­mon Go on the Loy­ola lake­front path near Lunt Av­enue when some­one walked up about 10:30 p.m. and shot the 24-year-old in the head at point-blank range — the same man­ner in which Watts was slain.

Bal­lis­tic tests showed that shell cas­ings re­cov­ered from both scenes — barely half a mile apart — came from the same gun, po­lice an­nounced a day af­ter the sec­ond mur­der.

Au­thor­i­ties re­leased sur­veil­lance video of the sus­pect recorded af­ter Watts’ mur­der, show­ing a man dis­guised in black cloth­ing with a ski mask run­ning away with a dis­tinc­tive gait, with his toes pointed out­ward.

The fact that the sus­pect ar­rived and left the scene on foot has made de­tec­tives think he’s from Rogers Park.

“The hon­est an­swer is we don’t know where he is right now,” John­son said Thurs­day. “He’s ob­vi­ously lay­ing low right now. He knows there’s a lot of pres­sure . . . . But I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s moved out of Chicago.”

Cam­eras near the the lake­front did not cap­ture ev­i­dence on Moscowitz’s killing, ac­cord­ing to po­lice. De­tec­tives have pored over hun­dreds of hours of video but re­main mostly empty-handed.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors ini­tially sug­gested Watts had been the vic­tim of a rob­bery, but later said noth­ing was taken from him or Moscowitz.

The pos­si­bil­ity of a hate crime was also briefly floated — Watts was gay, and Moscowitz an Ortho­dox Jew — but in­ves­ti­ga­tors now say that isn’t likely. The vic­tims have no ap­par­ent con­nec­tion.

“We don’t know the mo­tive of this in­di­vid­ual and we prob­a­bly won’t un­til we get him and are able to talk to him,” John­son said.

In the weeks af­ter the killings, po­lice ded­i­cated an “un­prece­dented” 40 de­tec­tives to the case.

“We’re not quite at the num­bers we were back then but we still have a sub­stan­tial amount of per­son­nel out there,” John­son said.

Long­time Rogers Park res­i­dent Ginny Durkin said she’s stopped walk­ing her dog at night in the wake of the mur­ders.

“It’s hor­ri­ble. I never no­ticed men’s feet be­fore all this,” Durkin said, re­fer­ring to the sus­pect’s unique gait. “But you can’t spend your life wor­ry­ing con­stantly.”

Any­one with in­for­ma­tion is asked to call Area North de­tec­tives at (312) 744-8261. Anony­mous tips can be sub­mit­ted at cpdtip. com.

PRO­VIDED PHO­TOS

Po­lice re­leased a sur­veil­lance photo of a masked man sus­pected in the mur­ders of Eliyahu Moscowitz (top left) and Dou­glass Watts (bot­tom).

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