Desmond Collins / Photo from Chicago Police
BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN
Tiara Groves’ death was featured in a Chicago Magazine article last year, which focused on how authorities reclassify homicides — which, in turn, skews crime statistics.
The 20-year-old’s family believes she was murdered.
And, indeed, Groves’ death was considered a murder until Dec. 18, 2013, when Chicago Police changed the matter from a homicide investigation to a noncriminal death investigation after the Cook County medical examiner’s office determined the cause of death to be a homicide by “unspecified means,” according to the magazine story.
On Friday, Groves’ neighbor along with a man who goes by the nickname “Wicked” appeared in court to face concealment of death charges tied to the Austin woman’s last days.
“They got away with murder,” Groves’ sister Kenyatta Groves said after Leondra Martin and Desmond Collins’ bond hearing.
Martin was caught on surveillance video arguing with Tiara Groves at Austin Liquors in Cicero on July 14, 2013 — the last day Groves was seen alive, Assistant State’s Attorney Sarah Karr said.
Martin allegedly admitted to detectives that after Groves overdosed, she had watched as Groves’ body was wrapped in a sheet and driven from a hotel in Cicero to a home before it was dumped in warehouse, in the 4600 block of West Arthington Street.
Groves’ naked, decomposed body was found nine days later, Karr said.
There was a loosely tied gag tied around Groves’ head and pieces of wire and a piece of skin next to her body, Karr said. A chair with similar wire was near Groves, Karr said.
Collins’ DNA matched the DNA found on the wires and Groves’ fingernails, Karr said.
The Medical Examiner concluded that the cause of death was “undetermined,” but that the manner of death was a homicide based on the condition of the body and the nature of surroundings where the body was found, Karr said.
Groves, who had heroin in her system, could have died from a drug overdose, but the Medical Examiner’s Office also said it could not rule out asphyxiation.
Collins, of the 1500 block of South Tripp Avenue, was arrested Wednesday.
Martin, who had since moved to Waukesha, Wis., was arrested on a warrant the same day.
Collins, who has several felony convictions, also has been charged with failing to register as a sex offender for a 1995 case in which he tied a 10-year-old girl’s hand to a bedpost before assaulting her, Karr said.
Judge Maria Kuriakos Cecil ordered Collins, 38, held in lieu of $350,000 bond.
Martin, a 30-year-old mother of two, was ordered held in lieu of $100,000 bond.
Groves’ mother and siblings, who were at Friday’s hearing, are upset that Martin and Collins aren’t facing more severe charges.
The family said Groves wasn’t a drug abuser and drank alcohol only for fun.
Although they didn’t know Collins, the family said they knew Martin; they said she had lived next door and always came over to eat.
When Groves disappeared, they said Martin pretended to be concerned.
“She would ask, ‘Did you all find her yet?’ knowing exactly where she was,” Kenyatta Groves said.