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Woman Found Stabbed in Chatham Home Was 'Working on Herself'

By  Geoff Ziezulewicz and Emily Morris | February 21, 2013 11:31am | Updated on February 21, 2013 1:08pm

CHATHAM — One of the women found stabbed in a burned out Chatham apartment was "working on herself," a friend says.

Cherie Adams, 43, and her daughter, Curtria Duncan, 24, were found in a bathroom with multiple stab wounds after a Wednesday afternoon fire in their apartment, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.

Firefighters responded to a blaze in the 8100 block of South Maryland Avenue about 3:30 p.m., a fire department official said. Authorities say they are investigating the fire as arson. 

Duncan died from suffocation and several "sharp force injuries," according to an autopsy released Thursday by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office. Adams' died from several "sharp and blunt force injuries" according to the autopsy. Both deaths were ruled homicides.

Rochelle Pinex, whose father dated Adams for years and said Adams and Duncan were like family, said the women were friendly though they didn't have too many friends. 

"They stayed to themselves," Pinex said. "I don't know how anybody could do this to them."

Adams' friend Debra Otis, who lives nearby, said the mother and daughter were close.

"Whenever you seen her, she was with her mama," Otis, 46, said of Duncan.

Duncan was an intelligent woman and a student at Kennedy-King College, Otis said. Adams was a self-employed beautician who often would give discounts to clients who couldn't pay and let them pay her back later, Otis said.

"She was a beautiful person," Otis said. After struggling with drugs, Adams "was working on herself," she said.

Otis "broke down crying" when she learned the women were dead, she said.

Otis said she did not know why anyone would want to kill Duncan, who had a young son named Michael, who's around 4. The boy did not appear to be in the apartment at the time of the fire, police said.

But Duncan's mother recently got into an intense fight with a neighbor, which made Otis worry about her safety.

"To have something like that happen in the community, it's scary," she said.