Daisy Hayes’ family erupted in cries of disbelief Friday when Cook County Judge Diana Kenworthy issued a not guilty ruling in the bench trial of Jimmy Jackson.
Jackson, 75, had been charged with murder, home invasion and concealing Hayes’ death but with the verdict, he became a free man again.
In 2018, the Hayes family came to NBC 5 Investigates with evidence they said showed only one man could be responsible for the disappearance of their mother. Teresa Smith, Hayes’ daughter, was certain that her mother’s boyfriend, Jimmy Jackson, had killed her mother in her Chicago Housing Authority apartment building.
Smith says she believes Jackson then stuffed her mother’s 5-foot-2-inch body, just 85 pounds, into a suitcase and wheeled it outside and dumped it in a dumpster. Smith was anonymously given security camera footage showing Jackson coming off the elevator with a suitcase that she says clearly showed the outline of her mother’s body inside.
“I can see her whole leg, her whole leg print," Teresa Smith said, looking at the video. “Her boyfriend Jimmy Jackson is leaving with a suitcase that he’s struggling with.”
The body of 65-year-old Daisy Hayes was never found but her boyfriend, Jimmy Jackson, who went to Tennessee shortly after her disappearance, was found by Chicago Police detectives. He was brought back to the city to face murder charges.
On Friday, the not guilty verdict issued by Judge Kenworthy left Daisy’s niece and daughter sobbing in disbelief as they were ushered by court security out of the courtroom.
“Four years we’ve been fighting this, and all we got was a not guilty verdict, “ Smith said, as she was crying.
“She (Teresa) fought hard to get justice for her mother, and the judge failed us,” Loinda Jones added.
During the bench trial Judge Kenworthy reviewed the suitcase video and other security footage showing Jackson going in and out of Daisy Hayes’ apartment with cleaning supplies and in different clothes. However, the judge said the video was not proof that a criminal act had occurred.
The judge stated Hayes was 65 years old, had been drinking that day and there was no sign of struggle inside the apartment or biological evidence of a crime.
NBC 5 Investigates found Jackson had been accused of murder before.
In 1985, he faced two counts, but prosecutors dropped the charges after a witness failed to show up in court on several occasions. The Hayes’ family was in court every step of the way, but on Friday left in tears, wondering what it takes to get a murder conviction.
“What did she (the judge) not see, oh my God!,” Smith said.
The Cook County State’s Attorney Office issued the following statement following the ruling:
“As in all cases, we prosecuted this case to the fullest extent, and will continue to do so on behalf of all victims in Cook County," the statement read.