Lattie McGee
December 29, 1982 - August 14, 1987 
Find A Grave Memorial

On August 14, 1987, paramedics and police found the battered, tortured body of  Lattie McGee. Lattie had been subjected to some of the most horrific abuse  that any of them had ever seen. In their South Side Chicago apartment, Alicia Abraham, who was 28 years old at that time and her boyfriend, Johnny Campbell, who was 40 at that time, had spent the entire summer beating on Lattie with their fists, burning him with an iron and cigarettes, forcing his tiny legs into boiling water, sticking him with sewing needles, not feeding him or giving him any water and then wrapping his ankles with clothes line and  hanging him upside down in the closet. A rag was stuffed into his mouth so that no one could hear him screaming and crying.

While other children were outside playing, Lattie was being punished because Johnny didn't like that he had a voice that was a bit too feminine for him. In order to toughen him up, Johnny would not give him food or water and when Lattie complained he would be beaten. On the night he died, a rag was stuffed into his mouth, potato peelings were put over his eyes, his hands were tied together and he was hung by his feet. Lattie had complained about the pain he was having due to broken bones, those complaints were ignored.

The next morning, Alicia didn't go to the closet to get Lattie. Alicia sat down in front of the television. When Johnny took him down from the closet, all Lattie wanted was some water. Johnny told him to be a man and get it himself. With no strength left in his battered, broken and hurting body, Lattie was not able to get the water on his own. Johnny was angered by the weakness that Lattie was showing and punched him in the ear. Lattie fell to floor and died.

The only escape for him, from the torture he had been suffering, was when he died. SHOCKINGLY, two years before this happened, Alicia has been in trouble for neglecting her children. State investigators had WRONGLY found that the situation in her home had improved. Their mistake cost a little boy his life. 

A pathologist said that Lattie had died from a blow to his head which had slowly caused him to die:

"His emaciated body, scarred from head to foot, was so  infected from untreated
wounds that he probably would 
have died a short time later" 

Paramedics had lifted up Lattie's shirt and beneath it they found that his chest was just raw skin. Repeated abuse had ripped the skin away from his body:

"I have never seen anything like that in my life. There were these terrible burns
on his ankles. It didn't make sense. 
Later we found out that the burns were rope
burns from 
when they would hang him upside down in the closet. We  lifted his shirt
up, and his chest, it was totally raw. All of 
the flesh" 
Officer Roberto Garay

"This is the worst case imaginable. There's a special  place in hell for them" 
Cook County Assistant State's Atty. James Bigoness

In the home was another child, Cornelius Abraham, who was Lattie's brother. Cornelius had been through some of the same abuse that Lattie had suffered, by some miracle, he survived it. This brave little boy testified in court to the abuse he had seen take place on his brother by Alicia and Johnny. Cornelius helped to put the people who abused his brother, away for life when Johnny Campbell and Alicia Abraham were both sentenced to life in prison.

Cornelius, who was six years old at the time, went to live with his biological father. The man also neglected him and at the age of 12, Cornelius was homeless and for three months he was all alone. Five years later, Cornelius would be placed with a foster family who would love and care about him, he grew to call them mom and dad.

Cornelius graduated high school and went to college at the University Of Dekalb and planned to study computer science. He was 18 at that time. A lot the healing that took place in the life of Cornelius came with the help of the YMCA Networked For Counseling Youth Development. The organization had initiated a program to give out an annual award to a child who had overcome obstacles in life. The award was going to be named after Cornelius. In 1999 he was given the first ever, Cornelius S. Abraham awarded. The award was designed to give hope to children who were suffering from or had suffered from abuse.

In a banquet room in Alsip, not too far from where Lattie was buried, in walked Cornilius and his foster parents, Dwayne and Ingra Coope. The event was not very large, with less 100 people attending. Jim Bigoness, the man who has prosecuted the people who had killed Lattie and abused Cornelius, was there. Bob Green, the man Cornelius had asked to present him with the award was also there. None of his blood relatives bothered to show up.

Cornelius showed up in a suit that he had bought especially for the ceremony.  He was happy to be there, though he was nervous and he said:

"From bad things, good can come"

Bob Green talked with Cornelius for awhile and then it was time to present the award to him. He made a speech which is printed below. Here is what he said to him:

That Cornelius has had a much more profound effect on my life than I have
had on his. 

That he has inspired me from the first moment I met him, and that in many
ways he is the reason that, on my better days at work, I try to do what I do.
That his courage in venturing out into a world that conspired to hurt him and
hold him down since he was a little boy, and his determination not to let that
hurt stop him from endeavoring to lead a worthy life, is as impressive as anything
I have ever been privileged to witness -- and that he is his little brother's finest
legacy. 

That for anyone who thinks there is no hope in the world -- for anyone who thinks
that giving up is sometimes the only option -- Cornelius is the proof that they are
wrong. Cornelius is the proof that hope can overcome anything. 

And I told him this: 

That of all the things that have ever happened to me, the fact that he would ask
me to be by his side on this night is the highest honor I can ever hope to receive. 

Politicians and government officials who at first had been so concerned with what had happened, move on in their lives. The state of Illinois said there were no public funds to bury Lattie. Lattie was buried in an unmarked grave. Tom and James Gast, stonecutters, read about what happened and carved a stone for him that was bought by others who had also read about him.

Lattie is buried in the children's section of the Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip. The words carved into his headstone are simple, Lattie's name, date of birth and the date of his death are there. Along with that information are three words that mean more than anything "You Are Loved". At first, Lattie had no head-stone to mark his grave until two men, Tom and James Gast carved the stone and the public donated money to pay for it.

Some information for this page was found here:
The Jewish World Review


Remembering Lattie

His name was Lattie McGee
I never met him and he never met me
But he touched my life in a profound way
when I saw his face on the news one day

His little body was bruised and battered
every bone in this child was broken or shattered
He was tortured to death at the age of four
on the south of Chicago, like a prisoner of war

He was beaten, he was gagged, then hung upside down
He wa burned, he was started, and then he was bound
inside a dark closet to hang there and die
for no one heard the little boy cry, no one heard the little boy cry

Thirty years to life, Johnny Campbell received
He showed no remorse, he never even grieved
for the tiny boy named Lattie McGee
who died so young and so tragically

If the time ever comes for Johnny to be free
I pray the parole board will look at him and see
that no man who tortured a child that way
should ever again see the light of day.

Let him suffer alone, let him rot in his cell
For what he did to Lattie, may he burn in hell
Before he takes his last breath, before he can state his case
I hope that he sees Lattie's innocent face

May he look terror in the eyes, may he feel Lattie's pain
May he struggle to survive, be let it be in vain
When the last light goes out before Johnny Campbell dies
may he forever and ever, hear Lattie's cries

Forever and ever, hear Lattie's cries...

Author: Susan Maree Jeavons © 10-11-05

NOTE:

There is a picture floating around out there that people are saying is Lattie McGee. The picture is NOT Lattie, the picture is of another little boy who was abused to death. His name is Faheem Williams. He is another child on my site and other sites in his memory. His story can be read here: Faheem

October 24, 2011

I want to thank a woman who visited my site and called to my attention that she had seen an actual picture of Lattie on a web site. Up to this point, I had seen many sites claiming that the picture of Faheem Williams is Lattie. Thank you so much, Liza, for letting me know that there was a picture of him. It's sad to know that it's the only one out there that is available to be seen on the internet.

Death Occurred in the state of Illinois

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