Illinois boy, 11, killed while defending pregnant mom against her ex: police

CHICAGO (WGN) — An 11-year-old boy was fatally stabbed in Chicago while defending his pregnant mother against her ex-boyfriend, who was released from prison a day before the attack, police said.

Crossetti Brand, 37, was charged Friday with first-degree murder in the death of Jayden Perkins, as well as attempted first-degree murder for allegedly stabbing Perkins’ 33-year-old mother.

Brand also faces charges of armed robbery, aggravated domestic battery, unlawful use of a weapon, violating a protection order and three counts of home invasion with a deadly weapon.

Investigators said the deadly stabbing happened inside the victims’ home at the Peterson Plaza apartment complex on Wednesday, March 13.

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Perkin’s mother was about to leave her apartment to take her two sons to school around 7:45 a.m., but as she opened the door, Brand allegedly forced his way inside and began stabbing her.

According to court records, Perkins was trying to protect his mother when he was fatally stabbed in the chest. The boy’s younger brother witnessed the attack, authorities said, but was uninjured.

The woman was transported to an area hospital in critical condition. Officials confirmed Friday she was alert and expected to survive, along with her unborn child.

“This is something that should never had happened,” Chicago Police Department Superintendent Larry Snelling said during a press conference Friday.

Brand had served a 16-year sentence in a 2015 case for home invasion, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, and aggravated domestic battery involving a different victim, Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and court records show. He was released from Stateville Prison on mandatory supervised release in October 2023, the IDOC confirmed.

“At that time he received a memorandum reminding him of the order of protection regarding victim one,” Assistant State’s Attorney Anne McCord Rodgers said.

Perkins’ mother reportedly dated the suspect more than 15 years prior and had an active order of protection against him in place. She registered herself in the IDOC system to receive alerts regarding Brand’s release from prison.

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According to the court documents, the suspect allegedly sent the victim a text message threatening her and her family on Jan. 30. He then allegedly went to her home on Feb. 1, two days later, ringing the doorbell multiple times and attempting to pull the handle.

Prosecutors said the victim contacted the parole board, and Brand was taken back into custody, only to be released on parole weeks later on March 12, one day before the deadly stabbing.

According to a request for an emergency order of protection filed on Feb. 21, the victim wrote that Brand “sent me several text messages saying he would kill me and my family. He would wait outside my house and shoot me. I have pics.”

A judge did not grant the request for the emergency order of protection and instead scheduled a hearing on the matter on March 13, but it was already too late.

Court records paint a history of domestic violence against the victim by Brand, who violated an order of protection involving the woman three times back in 2008 — a case he received a three-year sentence for, according to the IDOC.

During Brand’s sentencing in that case, he was served with an order of protection that listed the victim and her mother as protected parties, prosecutors said.

“When he was served with this order of protection, he ripped it up in front of a judge in open court,” McCord Rodgers said.

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Brand has several other felony and misdemeanor convictions, including a 2009 non-domestic related case involving possession of a stolen motor vehicle, where he was sentenced to four years in prison, and a 2005 battery case, where he served 10 days in county jail, records show.

“This is someone who should not have been on the street,” Snelling said.

According to the bond proffer filed in the deadly stabbing, Brand was captured on surveillance video several times, both near the crime scene and on CTA cameras, leaving after his alleged involvement in the attack.

Several other items were recovered with a red blood-like substance on them, including a knife, clothing, and a stolen cellphone belonging to the victim, prosecutors said. Results of forensic testing on those items is pending.

Perkins remembered for his kindness at vigil

On Friday night, family and friends of the 11-year-old boy killed gathered at the apartment complex where the attack happened. They said they are going to miss Perkins immensely.

The child was in sixth grade at Peirce School of International Studies.

Over 70 classmates, teachers and families also came together at the apartment complex Thursday night for a vigil.

The 11-year-old was remembered for his kindness, and a memorial has filled up the halls of Peirce — where he was known for uplifting his classmates.

“He sees when people need help or when they are feeling down, and he helps them. He comes up to them and… says a joke to try to make them laugh,” friend Mason Hamm recalled.

Perkins loved to dance and perform. He starred in school productions and was the narrator in last year’s Dr. Seuss play. This year he was scheduled to be Nemo in “Finding Nemo.”

Friends said they’re considering rewriting the script so it honors him.

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“It’s not going to be the same without him,” Hamm said. “Jayden, we love you.”

Brand is due back in court on April 3. During Friday’s hearing, emotions ran high among family members of Perkins as Brand entered the courtroom. Several people were removed.

“Jayden was a bright light in his community. We grieve alongside his family and community as we reckon with this unthinkable loss. We pray for Jayden’s mother’s recovery. We will never forget Jayden, who was taken from us much too soon. May God rest his soul in eternal peace.” Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said in a statement on Saturday morning.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233.

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