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Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park

A Year After Random Murders Rocked Rogers Park, Detectives Say The Case Has Gone Cold

Despite a $150,000 reward, the largest in the city's history, and hundreds of leads, Cmdr. Robert Cesario said police are no closer to catching the high-profile shooter.

Left: Police Cmdr. Robert Cesario speaks to the press Tuesday. Right: A photo of the suspect in two Rogers Park murders.
Chicago Police
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ROGERS PARK — A year after two seemingly random lakefront murders rocked Rogers Park, leads have dried up and the case has gone cold, Chicago Police said Tuesday.

Police are no closer to finding the shooter even with a $150,000 reward, Cmdr. Robert Cesario said at a press conference Tuesday evening. Now they need the public’s help to generate leads to “kickstart” the investigation, he said.

“I’m saddened to report that we have exhausted all of our active and actionable leads and are again asking for public assistance,” he said.

In October 2018, two murders happened in two days in Rogers Park. Douglas Watts, 73, and Eliyahu Moscowitz, 24, were shot and killed while out walking just blocks apart near Lake Michigan.

With no connection between the two victims, the murders created fear in the Rogers Park neighborhood. Many feared the murders were a hate crime since Moscowitz was an Orthodox Jew and Watts identified as gay.

About 40 detectives were assigned to the case and the reward for the killer’s capture climbed to $150,000, the largest reward in city history. At one point, then-Ald. Joe Moore (49th) offered free Lyft rides to residents afraid to walk the streets.

Other than a video that shows the killer clad in black, with a distinct “duck feet” gait, few details from the investigation have emerged publicly.

And that didn’t change on Tuesday. Cesario was unable or unwilling to answer nearly every question asked of him.

He did say there have been “hundreds” of leads in the case, but lately the tips have stopped rolling in. He said he hoped increased media attention would generate more tips.

“The brazenness of this case has galvanized our community,” he said. “We are not going to give up on investigating these murders.”

Cesario said police would recirculate the flyer asking for information about the killer and the video of the alleged gunman would be released again.

Although Cesario would not say if detectives had a psychological profile of the killer, he again said the suspect is a slender male who is about 6 feet tall.

The same gun used in both Rogers Park murders has been reportedly used in two other shootings on the South and West sides. It’s not known how that gun got passed along after the Rogers Park muders, but Cesario said there’s no other evidence the shooters in the newer cases were connected to the Rogers Park killer.

“There is no indication [the gunman] is connected,” he said.

There were suspicions that Michael Blackman could be a suspect. Blackman is facing charges for multiple shootings including shooting a woman Downtown and a police officer in Englewood. Like the Rogers Park gunman, Blackman was clad in black.

But on Wednesday morning, Chicago Police confirmed Blackman was not a suspect in the Rogers Park murders.

Cesario urged the public to come forward several times, indicating that family or friends of the gunman should come forward with information about the crimes.

Anyone with information can contact Area North Detectives at 312-744-8261.