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'A Waste of Life': Five-Year-Old Boy, Mom Found Dead in Back of the Yards

By  Josh McGhee and Quinn Ford | June 28, 2013 6:32am | Updated on June 28, 2013 5:04pm

 Chavonne Brown and her son Sterling Sims
Mother, son found dead in Back of the Yards
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BACK OF THE YARDS — A 5-year-old boy and his mother were found shot to death early Friday morning in their Back of the Yards home.

Police were called to the 5300 block of South Winchester Avenue about 2:39 a.m. where they found Chavonne Brown, 31, and her son, Sterling Sims, fatally shot, officials said.

Two other people were in the home at the time of the shooting, including Sterling's 11-year-old, according to family.

Steve Sims, the slain boy's father, said Friday afternoon he knows who killed his son and ex-girlfriend.

"He wasn't a stranger. He knew them," Sims said. "She let him in, and he had bad intentions."

Sims and neighbors said Brown had been letting a man stay with her after the man's family had "turned their backs on him." They said the man had plans to kill all four people who were in the house, but his gun jammed after shooting Brown and Sterling.

Friday afternoon, family members gathered at Sims' grandmother's house two blocks from where the grisly shooting happened.

Sims sat on a plastic crate as friends came by to offer their condolences. He said his son was a "charismatic" kid who "had his whole life ahead of him."

"He loved everybody. He was open to everything," Sims said. "If he didn't know you, [he'd] see you one time, the next time he'd see you, he'd come up and hug you."

Sims said Sterling had just graduated kindergarden at Henderson Elementary two weeks ago and was mad school had ended because he "wanted to keep seeing his friends."

"He loved school," Sims said.

Friends described Brown, who babysat for a living, as generous and willing to take people in who were having a hard time.

"She was a loving person," said Ferneacres Smith, a 36-year-old cousin of Brown. "She gave you her heart."

Friday morning, Smith asked whoever is responsible for killing Brown and Sterling to come forward.

"You took something from us we cannot get back," she said. "You took two precious lives."

Veronica Smith, a friend and neighbor of Brown, said she was introduced to her when she first moved into the neighborhood.

"She welcomed me with open arms," Smith said. "She was a great mother. Every day, all day."

Smith said Brown liked to laugh, and she'd sit on the porch with her two boys. She said Sterling would play basketball with her own son, who was like another big brother to the 5-year-old.

Smith said she heard the gunshots in Brown's home overnight Thursday. On Friday morning, she was inside the house helping to clean it.

"I'm seeing things that no one should have to see," she said. "A waste of life."

Sims said he blames his son's death on a pervasive "mentality" in the neighborhood that led someone who knew Brown and Sterling to kill them.

"It's not something the city's doing, the police doing - it's our upbringing," he said. "We have this bad mentality towards each other, and it's how we think."

Sims said he has faith police will find his son's killer, and that family will have justice "regardless."

"I already know what's gonna happen," he said. "Justice is gonna be served regardless. Trust me, regardless."

No one was in custody as of Friday afternoon, police said.