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A Family’s Struggle for Justice

Devin Dyer, an 18-year-old Austin resident, was shot to death at a party on March 6, 2011. His parents and uncle are still trying to piece together how he spent the last moments of his life nearly three years later.

Sonya Burks must cope with not knowing who murdered her son almost three years ago.
Sonya Burks must cope with not knowing who murdered her son almost three years ago.

Sonya Burks, Devin’s mother, said she doesn’t feel any sense of urgency from the Chicago Police Department to solve the case. She said more than 100 people were reportedly at the party, but that hasn’t helped catch the gunman.

“[Detectives are] giving me nothing. Even though he’s my kid he’s case number five, four, three, two, one or whatever [to them],” she said.

The family says some of their questions have gone unanswered by detectives assigned to the case – like why some of his personal items were missing after the murder and why the items weren’t taken in as evidence when they resurfaced.

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The detective assigned to the case was reached by phone and declined to comment, but a former Austin officer was willing to answer some questions about the investigation as long as he wasn’t identified – citing a Chicago Police Department policy prohibiting employees from talking to the media unless given permission.

“It sounds like a party where multiple people were invited … There were gang members it appears that showed up … It [seems] somebody turned off the music that somebody else was listening to and tempers flared,” he said.

The officer added sometimes it’s difficult for detectives to balance various investigations.

“It’s not to say that they aren’t actively investigating [Devin’s] murder anymore, it’s just that sometimes new things do come in and things get pulled off to the side. Your files get bigger and your to-do list gets longer and sometimes it just becomes a part of the mess,” he said.

The family still calls detectives hoping they’ll finally receive some good news. They’ve been told that without a witness the case remains at a standstill.

This story is part of a week-long series published on about homicides on the West Side. AustinTalks undertook the three-month project with the support of The Chicago Community Trust. More stories from the series can be found on


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