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Slain Boy Found in Lagoon Was Bullied By Gang Members, Family Says

By Erica Demarest | April 21, 2013 9:18am | Updated on April 22, 2013 1:38pm

CHICAGO — A missing Chicago Lawn teen was identified Sunday as the body pulled from a Marquette Park lagoon earlier this month.

Julius “Jay” Campbell, 14, of the 5900 block of South Artesian Avenue, had been missing since March 7, police said. He was last seen at Gage Park High School, where he was a freshman.

On April 12, police found a young man's body in a Marquette Park lagoon in the 6700 block of South Kedzie Avenue.

Campbell’s mother, Christina Campbell, positively identified the body as her son this week, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. An autopsy revealed the teenager died of multiple stab wounds.

“I have no idea [why anyone would hurt my son] because he was just so joyful,” Christina Campbell said Sunday. “I just don’t know, and that’s what’s so hard. Somebody hurt my baby, and all the time I was looking for him.”

When Julius Campbell didn't come home from school March 7, his family knew something was wrong. They filed a missing persons report, plastered the neighborhood with flyers and even enlisted Ald. Joann Thompson (16th) and a local pastor.

“We just couldn’t sit on our hands,” Christina Campbell said. “We did everything we could … I ran up on one kid one time and grabbed him because I thought he was my son. He favored my son so much. I thought it was him.

“We never gave up,” Campbell said, as she began to cry. “We never gave up.”

Uncle Joshua Campbell, 17, said his nephew confided that he had been bullied in the weeks before his disappearance.

“He told me a few times that a couple kids were bullying on him,” his uncle said. “It had stopped though, for a minute. I hadn’t heard a word from him."

Christina Campbell said she suspected classmates might have harassed her son because his older brother had gang affiliations, she said. But she said she didn’t know of any specific incidents.

“My baby was just so kind,” she said. “He trusted everyone. He just wasn’t aware that people could be real wicked. He was one of them that gave everybody a chance.”

Family members called Julius Campbell “a regular kid.” He enjoyed drawing and playing Nintendo DS with his three younger siblings. His favorite subject was literature, his mom said, and he struggled with math.

“He ain’t no street person; he's all goofy,” Joshua Campbell said with a smile. “He used to always like to joke a lot.”

Christina Campbell called her son “hardworking,” “kind-hearted” and “creative” as she recalled a recent Mother’s Day.

“He made me a silver-and-black bracelet,” she said. “It looked like he could’ve sold it for some nice money. I said, ‘Boy, you know what you’re doing, don’t you, Julius? I like this. I’m going to buy you one of these beading kits.’ ”

Christina Campbell said she was distraught over her son’s death.

“I’m making funeral arrangements for my 14-year-old baby,” she said. “I just don’t want to get up [out of bed]. But I have a 12-year-old, 11-year-old and 5-year-old, and they need me right now, so I push myself.”

“I feel broken,” she continued. “I feel a little bit like my child was calling on me, and I wasn’t there. I couldn’t help him.”

Police are investigating Julius Campbell’s death as a homicide.

Several neighborhood children claimed to have seen him around as recently as March 31. No adults confirmed sightings past the March 7 disappearance. The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office could not say exactly when the boy died. An autopsy is pending.

“I think, personally, that he was into something that he didn’t want to tell us about,” Joshua Campbell said. “He got away from the crib, I think, so he could protect his siblings. ... But we don't know what happened."