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We mourn the death of sister Deidre Silas, Illinois DCFS investigator

Deidre Silas (Photo credit: Illinois State University)
By Ezra Kane-Salafia ·

AFSCME members mourn the death of Sister Deidre Silas, a front-line worker and investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, who was killed on the job while investigating a report of children in danger.

On Jan. 11, Silas was assigned to visit a home in Thayer, a small town in central Illinois. Hours later, responding to a 911 call, local police arrived at the home to find that she had been stabbed to death. Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell said six children were present in the home at the time of the death.

Benjamin H. Reed, who lived in the house, has been arrested and arraigned in her murder, which officials say was the result of “multiple sharp force injuries and blunt force trauma.”

Silas, 36, joined DCFS in August 2021. Previously she spent more than seven years with the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, where she worked with children and teens with special needs and mental health issues. Silas was also a proud AFSCME member, serving as a union steward for her local union at DJJ.

"Deidre dedicated her career to helping young people,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said in a statement. “This tragedy is a stark reminder that front-line DCFS employees like Deidre do demanding, dangerous and essential jobs every day.”

“The hearts and thoughts of every AFSCME member are with Deidre’s loved ones, especially her children, in the wake of their profound and senseless loss,” said Lynch. “In her name we rededicate ourselves to our vigilant advocacy to improve workplace safety for all."

In a show of solidarity, around 60 DCFS workers and supporters packed a Jan. 6 arraignment hearing. Wearing AFSCME-green “Justice for Deidre” stickers, workers arrived well in advance and packed the courtroom for the hearing, where Reed was denied bail.

Silas is the second Illinois DCFS investigator and AFSCME member to be killed during an investigation since 2017. Pamela Knight, a child protection investigator was killed by the father, Andrew Sucher, while attempting to remove a vulnerable 2-year-old child from a home. Sucher later pled guilty and is serving a 21-year sentence for the crime.

Rest in power, Sister Silas.

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