1962 - 1969
|My heart is so easily
hurt when I do research on a child and in the end find out that there
are no known pictures of that child to be found. How can a child be
born and no one thinks it's a great idea to document the most precious
moment with a picture? Such is the case with Holly Lee Blake. A
child born into this world for what seems to have been only to suffer
and die at the hands of the woman who gave birth to
In 1969, a child name Vera Rodriquez had a hard time with hearing a
little girl crying in pain. The noise was
coming from an apartment building near where she lived at the time.
Vera was only 12 years old at that time and when she would bring up the
crying girl to her mother, she was told to
mind her own business.
"I remember being
afraid for whoever was in there. It seemed like there was a constant
years later, Vera's memories of the little girl were vivid and would
help to identify her as the remains found
coming from that room"
buried beside and apartment building in the 800 block of Buckingham
Place. Violent Crimes Detectives Robert Jellen and Reno Baiocchi would
find her to be very helpful when they
found the remains. Vera told the Detectives that she could remember
Holly being pushed in a toddlers stroller and
that she had a younger brother as well as parents named Joan and Tom.
Vera had never been enrolled in school and
it seemed she had never been to the doctor as there were no records at
all of her having visited one. Both
of Holly's parents were day laborers so there was no record of either
having worked. The Violent Crimes Detective
Division Cmdr. William Hayes gave full credit to Vera for helping to
find the person who killed Holly.
investigation, no one would have known this girl existed"
In 1999, in the
Chicago neighborhood where the Buckingham Place address was, there
were some renovations taking place. During the renovations, Larry
Vincent discoed was
digging about 2 1/2 feet into the ground outside of the apartment where
Holly had lived with her family. While digging,
he found a plastic bag and saw what looked like clothing inside of it,
like someone had discarded rag, he would
say. Tapping the bag cause a skull to roll out:
"It didn't scare me,
but it certainly concerned me. It wasn't right"
It was later discovered to be the remains of Holly lee Blake, someone
who few people even knew existed up to that point. Holly's life was one
of being physically abused as well as malnourished. Holly was locked in
a back room of the apartment where she lived with her parents. Dr
Edmund Donaghue, who was the Cook County Medical Examiner at that time
stated that the DNA was used to show that the child was a
girl who had been between five and six years old had been buried
between 1968 and 1969. It was determined that she
had been murdered and the cause of death was listed as asphyxia.
When the bones were
discovered, there were pajamas which she had been buried in. The
manufacturers date on the pajamas was 1968 and it was discovered that
they had been
discontinued in 1969. Detectives had to go through thousands of school
records to find Scott Blake and learn that
this parents were Tom and Joan Blake who lived at the Buckingham Place
address. Scott lead detectives to his
mother who had since remarried and went by the name Joan Miller who was
living in Beatrice, Nebraska. Police
subpoenaed Holly's birth records and found that she was born in 1962.
At first, Joan denied ever having a daughter
though she did admit to having lived at the address.
It was learned that Joan had kept her secret well hidden in the town
she had lived in for more than ten years after leaving Chicago. Joan
lived alone and kept the ashes of a deceased
boyfriend in her apartment. Joan had rarely spoken to anyone in her
town and few spoke to her. It was said that she
would have food and cigarettes delivered to her apartment though she
only lived a few blocks away from the Food
Mart. Joan rarely went out, not even to the trash can telling people
she simply didn't feel up to going out:
"She never wanted to
come out at all. It wasn't that she wasn't able to physically,
she didn't want to and she never said why. I guess the mystery will
be solved. What do they do now? Just drop it? What would you do if you
out the answer? She's gone"
Renz - Town resident who checked on Joan often
As it turned out, Joan was in the hospital suffering from congestive
heart failure and her condition was getting
worse. On March 18, Robert Jellen flew to Nebraska to speak with her.
The only responses she could give were to nod or shake her head since
she was on a ventilator. When asked if she
caused the death of her daughter, Joan nodded that yes she had. When
asked if she had buried her daughter by
the side of the house, Joan again nodded that yes she had. When asked
if her husband was involved in the death
and burial, Joan shook her head to say no. Police were able to get DNA
from Joan to establish if she was the
mother of the child they had found. It would later be revealed that the
DNA was a match.
It was learned that Holly had been struck in the head four weeks before
she died. The hit had broken her jaw in three places and she was unable
to eat solid food. Holly was later killed
when hands pressed down on her ribs so strong that five of her ribs
were broken and it became impossible for her to
Joan Milled died on a Friday in March of 2000, in her hospital room.
The case has been closed though the police had not had the opportunity
to ask her why Holly had died. Holly's father had died years before.
Neither of these two people will ever have to pay for what happened to
Holly was survived by two younger brothers, Scott and Kevin, who
never even knew she was alive. Scott Blake at one point told the police
that he didn't remember having a sister though he did have some
memories of always hearing someone crying when he was a child and he
knew his mother was a violent person:
"I look back on it and
it gives me an eerie feeling. It's a sister I didn't know"
Scott had plans to
bury his mother with a private funeral:
"Now that she's dead,
I believe she's at peace with what happened. I'm always going
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