In one of America’s most iconic cities, a shocking pattern of murder has been unfolding for more than two decades. Since 1999, 51 women – predominantly Black – have been found strangled across Chicago, their bodies dumped in garbage bins, alleyways, and abandoned buildings. To this day all but one of the cases remain unsolved, leading many to believe there is a serial killer – or killers – targeting women in Chicago. Through intimate interviews with families, activists, experts, police and even survivors, The Hunt For The Chicago Strangler remembers the women whose lives were taken and explores the close-knit communities that have been victimized by fear and loss, showcasing the devastating emotional toll that these unsolved crimes have taken as they continue to demand answers. Narrated by award-winning actor and Chicago native, Tonya Pinkins (“Red Pill”) the immersive three-part docuseries The Hunt For The Chicago Strangler will be available to stream on discovery+ beginning Friday, December 3.
With systemic racism as the backdrop, the docuseries sheds light on these murders in the context of decades-long marginalization of Black women and neglect in Chicago’s South and West Side communities. How could more than 51 women be strangled over 20 years, yet their killer or killers are still at large to this day? As The Hunt For The Chicago Strangler drives towards those answers, shocking new evidence has the potential to break the case open.
“Today, the Chicago homicides remain one of the biggest clusters of unsolved murders in America – yet also one of the most underreported. Case by case, The Hunt For The Chicago Strangler, hopes to bring justice to the forgotten women of Chicago, revealing a gripping investigation with new evidence after decades of little progress,” said Jason Sarlanis, President of Crime & Investigative Content. “This story tragically has layer upon layer of injustices, and we aim to shine a spotlight on the disparity of media attention and law enforcement resources that has long marginalized Black women in America.”
The Hunt For The Chicago Strangler highlights the work of The Murder Accountability Project (MAP), a nonprofit organization that tracks thousands of unsolved murders in the United States using their groundbreaking algorithm that signals a red alert to detect patterns and clusters of serial murders. Their findings are then turned over to law enforcement to help identify and profile unknown assailants, in hopes of delivering answers to communities demanding long-overdue justice.
The Hunt for The Chicago Strangler episode synopses are as follows:
Part 1: There’s a Thing Called Justice
Community leaders like Reverend Robin Hood and author Beverly Reed Scott describe life in the iconic South and West Sides, past to present. These neighborhoods, so often depicted as places steeped in gun violence, are so much more than that. They are living monuments to Black history and achievement. But they are also some of the most under-resourced and impoverished areas in the city. For families and community leaders, the lack of justice for these women mirrors the dismissal and abandonment these neighborhoods have faced for decades. But for law enforcement, these cases are a testament to the difficulties of policing areas where distrust of cops is rampant, and no one wants to talk.
Part 2: A Pattern of Murder
By 2007, more than 30 women had been found strangled in Chicago. Very little was reported, and police continued to investigate each case individually… until 2007, when the charred remains of two strangled women were discovered on opposite ends of a popular South Side park, less than 24 hours apart. Police begin looking for possible connections between them, while a group of experts called The Murder Accountability Project (MAP) begins tracking Chicago’s strangulations. They believe the cases are connected, and the most vulnerable women in Chicago are targets. Their research, informed by plenty of past examples, points directly at a serial killer. Meanwhile, there’s a stunning break in one of the earlier cases which leads to a shocking conclusion. And as Chicago’s number of strangulations continues to rise, MAP sends an alarming message to Chicago police.
Part 3: The Killing Rages
After a three-year gap in Chicago’s strangulation murders, the pattern begins again in 2017 as two women are murdered within three months. Chicago police assign a special team of detectives, working with the FBI, and tasks them with taking a fresh look at the unsolved strangulations. But even as they get to work, the murders continue unabated. The Murder Accountability Project’s research leads them to believe Chicago faces multiple serial killers who will not stop until they are caught. And as their findings become public, pressure on police and politicians builds. A young activist gets involved after his beloved cousin becomes the 51st victim. Then, in 2021, MAP gets a shocking tip that could prove explosive, leading them to unearth old evidence of a convicted serial killer’s confessions.
The Hunt For The Chicago Strangler is produced for discovery+ by Entertainment One (eOne) with Toby Dormer and Jocelyn Hamilton as Executive Producers and Jennifer Anderson as Director. For discovery+, Liz Massie is Senior Executive Producer.
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