Daughter of Washington Park murder victim says addict mother was ‘more than her demons’

Violent and property crime stats for Illinois

According to data from the FBI, property and violent crimes continue to decrease in Illinois, though the violent crime's are still slightly higher than the national average.
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According to data from the FBI, property and violent crimes continue to decrease in Illinois, though the violent crime's are still slightly higher than the national average.

Sandra D. Reckmann, who was shot to death then dumped on a desolate Washington Park street, was the shell of the woman Alisha Tucker knew as her mother.

Known to her daughter as Sandra Marsh, the 49-year-old Alhambra native’s body was found in the 1600 block of 56th Street in the pre-dawn hours of July 9, shot several times, including once in the face.

According to Tucker, her mother had struggled with addiction “throughout my entire childhood,” which she said likely contributed to her death.

“She was sober for 14 years and this last year, she picked up her habit again,” Tucker said. “It kind of happened after she got a divorce.”

Reckmann was living with friends in Washington Park and working as a dancer in one of the village’s adult nightclubs.

“This person my mother had become over the last year before she was murdered wasn’t my mother anymore,” Tucker said. “Though you try to prepare yourself in case something would happen because of the way she was living her life, you can’t really prepare for the way she was taken away.

“She was my mother. Without the addiction, she was one of the best people you could ever meet. Just because she had an addiction does not mean she was less than any other person.”

Crimes connected?

The body of a second shooting victim, Bridgett B. Williams, 56, was discovered in Washington Park less than 24 hours after Marsh’s body was found. The body of a third person, Amanda Legare, 38, whose last known address was in Belleville, was discovered in East St. Louis on July 21.

Investigators have not officially connected the three apparent homicides, but have acknowledged that the circumstances of each are similar.

Calvin Brown, the acting director of investigations for Illinois State Police Zone 6, said all three women are connected by their lifestyle, on which he did not elaborate. Their cases are similar in other ways. Each woman’s body was discovered in the early morning. The places they frequented were similar. Each died of gunshots.

There are no known suspects, said ISP Master Sgt. Elbert Jennings . The investigation is ongoing.

Tucker says she and the rest of her family want swift justice brought to the killer “before he hurts somebody else.”

‘At least my mom is free’

In the meantime, Tucker also wants investigators and the community to know that her mother was more than the sum of “her very strong demons.”

“Drugs do awful things to people and people do awful things for drugs,” Tucker said. “But, to demean someone who is an addict is not the right thing to do. People should encourage anyone they know to get help to get off of them.

“At least my mom is free.”

Tucker said her mother had a strong faith, was a hard worker and good provider. Because of her own struggles, Reckmann spent time helping other addicts.

She “brought people to our house who were suffering with their own demons, drugs, alcohol,” Tucker said. “She fed them, enrolled them in Alcoholics Anonymous programs, or Narcotics Anonymous, and took them to church. She did a lot of charity work. She really cared about people.”

“She helped people look for work, took them to the Department of Human Services. She helped them fill out paperwork when they didn’t understand how to do it.

“I wish you knew her. She was so cheery.”

‘Good prayers’

Tucker expressed her appreciation for the couple that discovered her mother’s body in the road and took the time to contact the police.

“That image will forever be burned in their mind as my own,” she said. “They were very thoughtful to do what they did.”

A life celebration was held at the fireman’s hall in Alhambra on July 14.

“There was a huge turnout, probably a couple of hundred people came, which speaks to how much she was loved,” Tucker said. “The pastor said really good prayers over my mother in hope that the situation absolved her of any sins she had in her life.”

Anyone with any information on this murder is urged to call the Washington Park Police Department at 874-0115, Illinois Stat Police at 346-3990 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-371 -TIPS (8477). This is an anonymous tip line that pays up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.

Carolyn P. Smith has worked for the Belleville News-Democrat for 18 years and currently covers breaking news in the Metro-East. She graduated from the Journalism School at the University of Missouri at Columbia and says news is in her DNA.
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