A body found burned on Chicago’s West Side over the weekend has been identified as a 15-year-old freshman at Steinmetz High School, according to officials and his family.
Demetrius Griffin Jr.’s body was found around 1:25 a.m. Saturday after police responded to a “refuse fire” in the 5500 block of West Cortez in the city’s South Austin neighborhood, according to police and the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.
The medical examiner’s office said Griffin Jr. was pronounced dead at 5 a.m. but the cause and manner of death is “pending further studies.”
Griffin Jr. was a beloved teen who enjoyed swimming and playing with dogs, his family said.
"He was a 15-year-old kid, loved the neighborhood, loved everyone," said his mother Polynesia Sykes. "Everyone loved Demetrius. That's why I don't understand why someone would do like this, to hurt him."
Sykes said she knew something was wrong when her son missed his curfew.
"He wasn't gang affiliated, he wasn't into the streets like that," she said. "Demetrius' problem was that he loved everyone and he trusted everyone."
Griffin Jr. had graduated from Bruson Elementary earlier this year, where he was part of the Boys and Girls Club. Just weeks ago, he began his freshman year at Steinmetz High School.
The high school did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A vigil is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the alley where Griffin Jr.’s body was found, according to community activist Dawn Valenti.
Sykes hopes someone who saw something may be able to help catch her son's killer or killers.
"Some monster out there murdered my son, they murdered my son," Sykes said, adding, "If anybody seen anything please help us. He was just a baby, he didn't deserve this."