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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Woman’s Screams For Help Wake Horrified West Town Residents — But No Victim Found

"I want to let her know that someone did hear her, that we called the cops to help her," one neighbor said.

The 1700 block of West Erie Street.
Alisa Hauser / Block Club Chicago
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WEST TOWN — Overnight Tuesday, residents of a West Town block woke up to horrifying screams — sounds they believe were from a woman being sexually assaulted.

Four calls were placed to 911 reporting a woman crying out for help in the 1700 block of West Erie Street between 2:32 a.m. and 2:53 a.m. — but police found no evidence of a victim, said Officer Jennifer Bryk, a Chicago Police spokeswoman. 

“She was screaming, ‘Someone call 911,’ and yelling to a man, ‘Get off of me,'” one 911 caller told Block Club Chicago. “I wanted to go down there but I called 911 and then police came 5 to 10 minutes later, and they [the victim and attacker] were completely gone.”

The resident, who woke up to the screams, called 911 twice while agonizing about whether to run outside, since it was unclear where exactly the screams were coming from and she was unsure of what she would encounter if she left her building. 

“It sounded like she was being pulled and moved because her voice would change aggressively. She was crying and screaming incredibly loudly. I felt like she was right in front of me. That’s how loud it was. Someone on the 1900 block [of West Erie] said they heard the screams,” she said.

The caller, who asked to remain anonymous, said the first officer on scene didn’t leave his car, so she called again.

“They did get out of the car and searched all the alleyways and side areas,” she said of the second time police came. 

Officers told her that someone else on her block who lives across the street had also called into 911 with reports of hearing cries from a woman.

Later Tuesday, a police source said the first squad car arrived within five minutes of being dispatched and, not finding a victim, parked in front with their windows open hoping to hear something or have a witness approach them.

Bryk said no reports of a rape were made Tuesday at the nearest hospital, Presence Saints Mary’s Medical Center, 2233 W. Division St.

Two district-wide databases for the Near West (12th) Police District, where the calls were made, and the neighboring Shakespeare (14th) Police District, do not show any reports of rape made by a victim on Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning, the caller posted to a neighborhood Facebook group asking if anyone else heard the screams.

Another woman a few blocks over said she had, and also called 911. 

Brie Altschul was walking her dog, Thor, in the 1700 block of West Erie on Tuesday, hours after she heard about the incident from the Facebook post. Altschul lives a block over and said she did not hear anything but was worried about it.

“I was concerned because whether it was an attempted rape, or a rape, or a domestic assault, whatever it was, in this climate we are in, it disturbs me. I’m always looking out for my fellow women,” Altschul said.

The 911 caller echoed these sentiments, and hopes that if there is a victim, she knows that her neighbors are worried and tried to get her help as soon as they could.

“I want to let her know that someone did hear her, that we called the cops to help her. She probably thinks no one called the cops for her.” 

Anyone with information can contact Near West District Police at 312-746-8396