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DNA links prison inmate to 1989 murder in Englewood

Michael A. Escort / Phofrom Chicago Police

Michael A. Escort / Photo from Chicago Police

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Updated: January 11, 2013 6:17AM

Just weeks before he was due to be paroled, Michael Escort has been charged with killing a woman in Englewood more than two decades ago, authorities said.

Escort went to prison in 1991 for aggravated criminal sexual assault and kidnapping. The 52-year-old was up for parole in that case on Dec. 23.

But last week police obtained a warrant for Escort’s arrest in the 1989 murder of Mary Smith, 34, after DNA recovered from her body at the crime scene was linked to Escort’s DNA.

On Sunday, a judge said Escort’s $750,000 bail would stand until another hearing Monday when prosecutors will likely argue he should be held without bail.

Outside court, Smith’s siblings remembered her as a loving, outgoing person.

Smith was found beaten and strangled in an abandoned building in the 5800 block of South Lowe and an autopsy showed she engaged in sex before her death, police said.

Chicago Police Detective Ed Carroll re-opened the cold case. Using a federal grant to solve such cases, the police department submitted a swab of Lowe’s body for DNA testing.

“We never get rid of homicide evidence, especially if it’s an open, unsolved murder,” Sgt. John Pellegrini said.

A DNA profile from the swab was entered into a database containing DNA profiles of criminals. The DNA from the swab matched Escort’s, police said. He has denied involvement in Smith’s murder, Pellegrini said.

Contributing: Allison Horton

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