A child welfare investigator with two children of her own was fatally stabbed inside a home in central Illinois last week while checking out an endangered-children report.
Deidre Silas, 36, had only been working for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services since August, according to her union.
Authorities found her body inside a home in Thayer, a small town about 20 miles south of Springfield, the state capital, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Benjamin Howard Reed, 32, was tracked to a hospital in Decatur, where he had gone for treatment of a minor injury, and was charged with murder, reports said. He is being held without bail.
Silas’ death was the second of a DCFS worker in the line of service since 2017, according to the Pontiac Daily Leader.
“This tragedy is a stark reminder that frontline DCFS employees like Deidre do demanding, dangerous and essential jobs every day, often despite inadequate resources and tremendous stress,” said Roberta Lynch, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said in a statement. “AFSCME will carefully study the facts of this incident as they emerge and press for any necessary changes to DCFS operations. One death in the line of service is too many.”
In the wake of the killing, Gov. JB Pritzker (D) praised Silas and others who work to protect vulnerable children as heroes and announced his support for a bill that would toughen penalties for attacking and severely injuring DCFS workers.
That bill was introduced after Pamela “Pam” Knight, a DCFS worker in Whiteside County, Illinois, was murdered in 2017.
Silas’ family mourned her death, saying she was dedicated to helping children. “It is not fair that my wife lost her life protecting someone else’s children when she has her own,” a man told WQAD News 8 in Moline, Illinois, in an interview in Silas’ home.