An Illinois social worker was stabbed to death during a scheduled home visit on Tuesday.
According to CBS Chicago, Deidre Silas conducted a home visit in Sangamon County after reports of six young children being endangered surfaced. Silas, 36, went to the home to investigate and was reportedly stabbed by 32-year-old Benjamin Reed, who is white. The youngsters ranging in ages one to seven were allegedly in the house but did not witness the crime.
The murder happened shortly after 4 p.m. in Thayer, Illinois (a town 20 miles outside of Springfield). The Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office told the news outlet that officers responded to the stabbing and had to enter the house forcibly. Silas was already dead upon police arrival. The children were not injured during the attack.
Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Director Marc Smith released a statement regarding Silas’ tragic death.
“The Department of Children and Family Services is deeply saddened by the tragic death of our colleague, Deidre Silas. Our most heartfelt condolences, thoughts, and prayers are with her family during this difficult time. Social work is more than just a job. It is a calling.”
“Deidre responded to this call and dedicated herself to the children, families and communities she served, and we will be forever grateful for her work,” he continued. “She was an incredible person, and her brightness and positivity will be missed not only by her family and friends but also her second family at DCFS.”
Reed fled the scene but was later apprehended that day in Decatur, a town 60 miles away from where the crime occurred. He was indicted on first-degree murder charges and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker also issued a statement regarding Silas’ death.
“Today, the State of Illinois mourns the loss of Deidre Silas, a DCFS caseworker and a hero, taken from us in the line of duty. There is no higher calling than the work to keep children and families safe, and Deidre lived that value every single day. Our most vulnerable are safer because she chose to serve. I can think of no more profound legacy. MK and I send our deepest condolences to her colleagues at DCFS, her family, and all who loved her.”
The social worker’s union mates also grieved the loss of their fallen comrade. Silas was a proud and dedicated member of AFSCME 805.
AFSCME Council 31 Executive Roberta Lynch said, “We are heartbroken at the loss of Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) investigator and AFSCME member Deidre Silas of Springfield, murdered Tuesday; while responding to a report of children in danger.”
“The perpetrator of this unspeakable crime must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” she added.
“Deidre dedicated her career to helping young people. Prior to joining DCFS in August 2021, she worked in behavioral health and for more than seven years with the Department of Juvenile Justice, where she was a union steward. 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.”
“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,” Robertsexpressed.
“Our union is providing support to Deidre’s coworkers to help them process this trauma and aid their grieving.”
No motive for the stabbing has been released.