Chicago was the scene of 412 murders last year, while New York and Los Angeles saw 333 and 255 homicides, respectively.
The statistic is particularly staggering when one considers that New York boasts a population of 8.3 million, while Los Angeles claims 3.3 million. The Windy City rounds out the top three with 2.7 million residents.
Chicago’s moniker of “Chiraq”— a portmanteau of Chicago and Iraq — is well known despite its specious implication. Indeed, a lot of the reportage about Chicago’s violence ignores key structural factors that direct poor individuals toward crime.
These include underperforming schools, lack of employment, ignored neighborhoods and years of racist policies that disenfranchised black Chicagoans.
Yet, one recent murder didn’t involve the typical themes of urban violence. This death stuck out because it was the least common type of homicide: matricide — the murder of one’s mother.
In the early morning hours of September 2, 2012 Yolanda Holmes (45) and her boyfriend, were sleeping in their Uptown, Chicago apartment.
As they slept, Eugene Spencer (22) was outside the apartment building talking on his cell phone to the architect of her imminent slaughter. At 4:46 am the architect inexplicably called Holmes to inform her that he was on his way over. Court records show the call came from her son, Qaw’mane Wilson (24).
Sometime between 4:46 am and 5:15 am, Spencer entered Holmes’ bedroom and shot her in the head — the autopsy also showed multiple stab wounds. But the gunshot woke up Holmes’ boyfriend who proceeded to attack Spencer.
The intruder, in turn, beat the boyfriend with the Colt revolver that fired the fatal shot, which had entered Holmes’ right temple. The two brawled but Spencer managed to escape to a getaway car driven by Loriana Johnson (23).
Johnson would later tell police she did not know of Spencer’s scheme to kill Holmes; she claimed to have thought he was there to commit robbery. Both Spencer and Johnson were friends of Wilson.
Yolanda Holmes was a popular business owner in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. Her Nappy Headz salon was well known and Holmes made sure to give back to the area.
She hosted back-to-school celebrations, gave away school supplies and was partially involved in efforts to bring more businesses to the gentrifying neighborhood. Holmes was also an avid traveler and exercise enthusiast who doted on her only son Qaw’mane.
Qaw’mane Wilson stands 5’3” and weighs 120 pounds. According to most reports, his mother spoiled him. One story described Wilson as a salon baby who often hung around the beauty shop owned by his respected mother.
DNAinfo Chicago reported Holmes bought her son a Camaro and lavish designer apparel, among other items. Wilson bragged about his more than comfortable lifestyle, which also included stints in private school.
Père Wilson, however, was not a presence in his son’s life. Instead, Jeffrey Todd Wilson is serving a life sentence after a fire he set to a crack house killed two people.
The owner of the drug house had refused to pay a street tax for dealing drugs in territory controlled by Wilson's gang, according to a 1993 Chicago Tribune report. The younger Wilson, who employed the stage name Young QC, was a somewhat popular actor and rapper within Chicago’s crowded and ever-expanding hip-hop scene.
He is also a father himself. The mother of one of his children, with whom I communicated on Facebook, described Wilson as a fame seeker. “He wanted to be famous and I thought my baby would be taken care of,” she said. She also alleged that Wilson is the father of more than five other children.
Wilson, in addition to being popular with the ladies, maintained a large social media presence. His Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages — all of which remain active -- have thousands of followers and likes. And it was on YouTube where Young QC gained fame as the namesake of a cheesy, low budget, poorly acted soap opera titled “Nick’s Story.”
The series’ nine episodes had thousands of views even before the arrest of its star. There are also clips of Wilson — who was always immaculately dressed — practicing his hip rolling skills, playing with his gun and, of course, counting his money.
His Facebook page depicts a ruthless and remote killer. Wilson posted a photo three weeks after his mother’s murder that showed him holding what appears to be hundreds of dollars in cash.
A few days after that photo, Wilson uploaded other pictures, which showed him holding wads of cash at a massage parlor and standing in front of newly leased luxury cars.
A YouTube video on his page documented Wilson “making it rain” for his fans. “I’m gonna take out $20 thousand, man. Just to show people, you feel me, I’m on a whole different level,” the murderer said. He was right about his deviance.
After the above comment, Wilson walked into a Chase bank, withdrew beaucoup bills, counted them outside of his Mercedes SUV and then threw the cash at screaming female fans.
Wilson was smiling the entire time as he boasted: “I’m the only one out here with a show who is giving back.” We now know from where Wilson’s rain came.
He emptied his mother’s two bank accounts, worth some $92,000 in cash, a week after her death (his Facebook page implies that he was in Milwaukee at the time). Wilson also cashed in Holmes' two life insurance polices, of which he was the sole beneficiary.
For over a year, Yolanda Holmes’ murder went unsolved, but last December, Chicago police arrested and charged Wilson, Spencer and Johnson with the killing. Social media users alerted the authorities to Wilson’s Instagram page. The tacky rapper loved flaunting his money, clothes and cars, but those gaudy showcases proved instrumental to his downfall.
The police grew suspicious and began investigating. They discovered the cell phone records and locations of the calls between Wilson and Spencer before, during and after the murder. Following their arrests, the threesome folded like characters on A&E’s "The First 48."
Johnson ratted out Spencer and Spencer told police that Wilson arranged the entire crime. Wilson, who has a tattoo of his mother’s name on his right shoulder, confessed, quite coldly, that Holmes was killed for his “financial gain,” according to the indictment. The dimwitted trio is currently in Cook County Jail as they await their next court hearing on March 20.
Today Wilson’s once active Twitter account is quiet. Though someone did hack it in January and attempted to argue that Wilson was innocent of the charges to which he has confessed.
His Facebook page, which many checked regularly for updates in the past, is now littered with insults from those disgusted by Wilson’s role in his mother’s murder.
The comments range from gay slurs about Wilson’s effeminate features — and hip rolling talent — to warnings that Wilson will burn in hell for his actions.
Qaw’mane Wilson neither grew up in poverty nor wanted for food, clothing, housing or any of the other necessities one needs to survive. Also, the aspiring rapper was not trapped in underperforming public schools like many of his brethren on Chicago’s South and West sides.
And he was not in a gang and never shot anyone with the rifles and handguns he carried in pictures. Looking back, Wilson’s attempted portrayal of a menacing, loaded hard ass was unconvincing and would elicit great laughter if not for Holmes’ death.
He killed his mother — not because of socioeconomic factors beyond his control, but because he is a greedy, spoiled, fame seeker who wanted to live the life of someone he was not.
He now has the fame he always sought, though I doubt this is what he envisioned when he conjured up the plan that resulted in his mother’s death.
Wilson’s shameless behavior is nauseating in hindsight. Not only did he make it rain with his murdered mother’s money but, five months after arranging the hit on Holmes, he also popped up at the funeral of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton in February 2013.
Gang members — who mistook Pendleton and her friends for rivals — murdered Pendleton mere weeks after she and her high school band performed at President Obama’s 2013 inaugural. The sophomore was shot, while standing in a park, only blocks from the Obamas’ Southside home.
Her slaying drew national attention and First Lady Michelle Obama attended the funeral. WGN interviewed Wilson as he stood outside the church: “My mother was a neighborhood woman, a guy entered her home, you know, and murdered her. Just to steal," he said. Wilson may not have realized it then, but that appearance disclosed his callous rationale for committing matricide.
Top Photo Courtesy: Facebook