Editor’s note: This story contains descriptions of sexual assault and kidnapping.
WEST PULLMAN — A “quasi security guard” from a neighborhood store held a woman captive inside an abandoned Far South Side home for three days, handcuffing and sexually assaulting her until a passerby heard her screams and called police, prosecutors alleged in court Wednesday.
Joel Cammon, 44, is charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping in the attack, which happened inside the vacant home in the 11900 block of Eggleston Avenue from May 18-21, police and prosecutors said.
Cammon, who was arrested Tuesday in suburban Alsip, was ordered held without bail during a bond hearing Wednesday. Prosecutors described him as “a quasi-security guard” at a nearby store they didn’t identify.
“This defendant held this victim prisoner for three days,” Assistant State’s Attorney Danny Hanichak said in court. “He sexually assaulted her, left, went on with his life knowing she was held captive in that abandoned home, and then came back just to sexually assault her again. The actions of the defendant are straight out of a horror movie.”
The attack and kidnapping started May 18, when the Cammon agreed to pay the 36-year-old victim for sex at the Eggleston Avenue house, Hanichak said. Cammon had previously paid the victim for sex on other occasions, Hanichak said.
The two argued after they went into the basement of the home, and Cammon said he was “sick of paying you b—-es for sex just for you to rush me,” Hanichak said. Cammon then took a pair of handcuffs he had and handcuffed the victim’s hands in front of her body, Hanichak said. Cammon dragged the woman to the upstairs attic and chained her ankle to the wall, Hanichak said.
Cammon then sexually assaulted the woman and left the house, leaving her handcuffed and chained, Hanichak said. The woman had no phone to call for help and began banging on the walls and screaming for help, Hanichak said.
Cammon came back to the house the following day and assaulted the woman again, Hanichak said. After Cammon left, the woman starting hitting the walls and yelling for help again, Hanichak said. No one heard her until Antione Dobine, a community activist who was talking to a neighbor about the need to board and repair vacant buildings on the block, heard the woman banging on the windows the afternoon of May 19, Dobine and prosecutors said.
Dobine live-streamed the incident, showing responding police officers telling him and other bystanders that the women had been “handcuffed and chained to a wall.”
“I first thought it was a little young girl in there, but later on we found it was a young lady,” Dobine previously told Block Club. “She was handcuffed and chained, and said she had been in there for a week. She said [her captor] sexually assaulted her twice.”
The woman was taken to Little Company of Mary Hospital for evaluation. Detectives found nearby surveillance video showing the victim arriving at the house May 18, and Cammon arriving and leaving the house at the same times the victim described over the following three days, Hanichak said.
Another witness who spoke to the victim later gave police more information about Cammon, who she knew from the area, Hanichak said. The victim identified Cammon from a photo array, Hanichak said.
Detectives surveilled Cammon’s home to arrest him but he never returned, Hanichak said. Officers arrested him Tuesday when he showed up to his Alsip job, Hanichak said.
Cammon is due back in court July 12.
After Dobine called police, he said he helped the woman get a hotel room for the next week. He then raised funds through the online platform Spotfund for his organization, Hands Around the Hundreds, to help the woman stay in the hotel until she finds permanent housing, as well as create a shelter for other women escaping abuse and sex trafficking, he said.
The house where police found the woman has been vacant for decades, said Dobine, who has lived in West Pullman since 1973. The home was “our candy store back when we were younger,” as the woman who lived there sold sweets to neighborhood kids, he said.
The attack underscores the need for community control over abandoned property in disinvested neighborhoods like his own, Dobine said. Vacant homes and empty lots abound in West Pullman, posing a safety hazard for neighbors, he said.
As a community organizer and block club member, Dobine has encountered drug sales, prostitution and squatters in vacant homes nearby — though he’s never seen anything like the kidnapping, he said.
Neighborhood residents experiencing homelessness, returning from incarceration or escaping abuse all need places to live, so there’s no reason for homes to stay empty, Dobine said.
“The banks that own these properties and the landlords that own these properties need to come to an agreement with the rest of the community,” he said. “If you’re not going to sell it to us, then allow us to rent it, fix it up and put it to use.”