Updated: Chicago man charged with murder in 1992 slaying of Evanston woman

Ciara McCarthy, Assistant City Editor

A Chicago man was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder in connection with the slaying of an Evanston woman that went unsolved for more than two decades.

Jimmie Dunlap, 43, was linked to the fatal stabbing of Deeondra Dawson, 25, after new DNA testing identified him as a suspect, police said.

Police found Dawson dead in her apartment the morning of April 23, 1992, in the 600 block of Sherman Avenue. She was stabbed at least 34 times and suffered multiple wounds, including a collapsed lung, brain hemorrhages and a human bite mark on her cheek, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office said.

“Police observed blood in every room of the apartment except for the kitchen and a steak knife was recovered in the living room with the blade bent at a 90 degree angle,” the state’s attorney’s office said in a news release.

Her 4-year-old son was in the apartment at the time of the killing, police said.

Evanston Police Department opened the case again three years ago and conducted the investigation with the cold case unit of the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. Police resubmitted evidence from the crime scene to a state police DNA database, which matches DNA samples against those of felons. Investigators found DNA evidence at multiple locations at the crime scene, including several points on Dawson and the knife, EPD Cmdr. Jay Parrott said at a meeting Friday. The arrest was in part due to the police’s responsible collection of evidence in 1992.

A combination of more advanced technology and a larger DNA database allowed investigators to identify Dunlap as the source of the samples, Parrott said. After identifying Dunlap, police interviewed him and learned he “had some type of relationship” with Dawson, Parrott said Friday.

Authorities talked to Dunlap on Tuesday and found his statements inconsistent with evidence from the crime scene, police said. Police arrested Dunlap that day, and the state’s attorney approved the charges Wednesday.

Dunlap’s bond was set Thursday at $750,000. Dunlap, of the 5300 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue in Chicago, is scheduled to appear in court June 20.

At a community meeting last month, police Chief Richard Eddington hinted at an upcoming arrest in a cold case amid community criticism over his department’s clearance rate for killings, or the percentage of slayings in which a suspect has been arrested. Since 2010, seven of 12 killings have been cleared, police said.

Eddington said Friday that this arrest was evidence of the department’s continuing commitment to the families of homicide victims. EPD is currently investigating 10 cold cases, including one from the late 1970s, Parrott said Friday.

— Ciara McCarthy