Amid a surge in domestic violence incidents and homicides in Illinois and the rest of the U.S., a Chicago family is sharing their story after a mother of five was shot and killed Sunday in the city's Rosemoor neighborhood.
Jessica Johnson, 30, was killed over the weekend in what family said was a domestic violence incident.
“I know she was scared. She used to tell her friends she didn’t know what to do and how to get out of it,” said Johnson’s sister Renee.
Johnson, who is a mother of five was in the car with her boyfriend Sunday night near 103rd and Eberhart in the Roosmoor neighborhood when family say he shot her.
“He shot her like three times in the face and six times in the chest and left her there like a dog on the street,” she said.
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Johnson’s sister spoke to NBC 5 on the phone and said she wants justice for her sister.
“My sister was a loving, caring, funny person,” said Renee. “She just loved life. She loved her children that’s one thing that’s going to be very hard for her kids right now.”
Chicago police said detectives are still investigating and have not identified a suspect in the case.
During the pandemic, domestic violence service providers like the Wings Program have seen an increase in calls and in instances of domestic violence.
According to statistics, the number of calls to the state’s domestic violence hotline have skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic. In the city of Chicago, the number of domestic violence homicides nearly tripled from 2019 to 2020, according to domestic violence support advocates.
“I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Wings Program President and CEO Rebecca Darr.
Darr said there’s a desperate need for more funding and housing for victims of domestic violence. Shelters have been operating at a limited capacity due to COVID.
“We’re working with the city to launch some new housing programs in Chicago to be able to move folks from DV shelters into their own apartments and hones and that’s really is the key,” said Darr. “If they don’t have resources to move forward their only option is to go back and we don’t want them to go back.”
Darr said the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline continues to see 15% to 20% increase year over year in calls to the hotline and 2,000% increase in text messages sent to the hotline over the last year.
“The next steps are really the courts holding abusers accountable for their behavior. That is a huge problem that we have with law enforcement forced to go back out to the same home over and over again because there is lack of resources and lack of accountability for the abusers,” she said.
The fight hits close to home for Marda Jackson. Three generations of her family starting with her mother, herself, and daughter are victims, and now survivors of domestic violence.
“My daughter wanted to break the cycle so she had a vision to start transitional housing for women of domestic violence,” said Jackson.
Jackson’s daughter started The Rebound Foundation and in 2016 she opened two housing locations in Springfield, Missouri with a third location coming this summer to Englewood. The houses are named after Marda.
“I just know that there is hope and there is a chance to recover from it because I am a proven example,” said Jackson.
As for Johnson, her family started a GoFundMe page to raise money for her burial and to help her children.
If you or someone you know need help you can call the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-877-863-6338.