During the overnight hours of Jan. 16-17, 34-year-old Sherry Nicholas died at the Jackson Park Supportive Living facility on Chicago's South Side, where she was a resident. She is the second known Chicago transgender woman to die in 2021.
Nicholas' father Jerry Nicholas told Windy City Times that she was a hate-crime victim in 2015 and alleges that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) never conducted an investigation into the matter. According to Jerry, this alleged 2015 hate-crime incident resulted in his daughter having seizures that would require medication for the rest of her life.
Jerry added that he did not know how his daughter ended up living at Jackson Park Supportive Living facility (which is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau) late last year.
"From what I discovered since my daughter's death, Jackson Park allows anyone and everyone to live there, even if they are a danger to others," said Jerry. "What happened to my daughter the day she died was unbearable because the people who run this place would not even talk to me or my other children about Sherry's death. They are only interested in taking resident's money every month. Please do not send your loved ones to live at this facility."
According to the CPD Office of Communications, Nicholas (whom they did not name in an email response to this publication because of their policy of not identifying victims) "was found unresponsive at the above address in the hallway of the [Jackson Park] residence. The victim was pronounced dead on the scene. The victim did suffer from previous medical conditions."
When Windy City Times contacted the Cook County medical examiner's office for further information, Public Information Officer Brittany Hill confirmed Nicholas as the person who died at Jackson Park Supportive Living facility, adding that her "cause of death and manner are pending at this time."
Hill also confirmed that Nicholas was identified by their office with her dead-name because of the state ID they had on file for this victim and Jerry confirmed his daughter's dead-name with this publication.
"The Illinois Vital Records Act stipulates the decedent's gender is reported on their death record as the person was officially recorded while alive," said Hill. "The Medical Examiner's Office verifies gender based on official documentation, such as birth certificate or driver's license."
CPD Spokesperson Kellie Bartoli told Windy City Times that this is still an open investigation because they are awaiting cause of death determination from the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.
"I truly believe because of my daughter's disability and her transgender identity, Jackson Park and the CPD discriminated against her," said Jerry. "So far, CPD have shown no interest or concern to investigate how my daughter died. It seems like the police are helping this facility cover-up and protect other people that lived at the facility.
"I was told by a friend, who chooses to remain anonymous due to fears of threats to him and his family, that a man by the name of Marcus was the last person to see my daughter alive. This person said Marcus, who is not a resident of the facility, is a drug dealer and was seen going inside the building on the evening of Feb. 1 despite prohibitions on visitors due to COVID-19 restrictions."
When this publication reached out to Jackson Park Supportive Living facility, it would not provide a statement. Instead, it directed Windy City Times to the parent company. As of this publication date, there has been no response from the parent company regarding this issue.
Following the publication of this piece, Jerry contacted Windy City Times with new information about his daughter's death that he obtained via a FOIA request to the CPD. In the police report dated Jan. 17 that was provided to this publication, it stated that Sherry's cause of death was a homicide and that she was found "laying on the floor of the hallway" inside Jackson Park Supportive Living facility "in a pool of blood in the fetal position."