Family of teen found burned to death in alley praying for answers over a year later

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CHICAGO -- Over a year after the body of 15-year-old Demetrius Griffin, Jr. was found burned beyond recognition in a West Side alley, his family is praying for answers — and hoping someone will step forward.

Family and community members came together for a vigil at the Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church on the West Side Monday, remembering the teen known affectionately as "Nunnie," who was murdered on September 17, 2016. His mother Poly Sykes says her son loved dogs, was good natured and quick with a smile.

"He was a beautiful kid," Sykes said.

He was never late for curfew — except on the night he died. When he was late after walking a girl home, Sykes says she knew immediately that something was wrong. Looking back, she remembers he had told her a gang was trying to recruit him.

"I knew they was messing with him. The guys in the neighborhood were bothering with him. So I was picking him up and driving him. This particular night I didn't," Sykes said.

Police later found his remains in a 55-gallon drum left in an alley on the 5500 block of West Cortez. They had to be identified using dental records. Autopsy results revealed Demetrius had been burned to death.

Community members held a vigil and march in the aftermath. All this time later, those who knew him best gathered again Monday, in the church where Demetrius could be found front and center on Sundays. The pastor there says they plan on adding an image of his face to the church's stained glass windows. A lasting reminder, as the search for his killer continues.

While police don't classify this as a cold case, they do welcome any and all tips, and are offering a $10,000 reward.