By Peter Nickeas and Jeremy Gorner
8:14 PM CST, March 6, 2013
Chicago Police Sgt. Tom Mitchell stood outside the home of Maria Pike Davis on Tuesday night and called to see if she was there.
He and two other detectives, Dan Gillespie and John Lally, had driven eight miles in the snowstorm about 10:30 p.m. from their North Side police station to deliver news she had been hoping and praying to hear since her son Ricky was slain in August.
The detectives finally had caught his killer, they said, standing in Pike Davis’ living room next to a collage of pictures of her son, along with a message scrawled on it that read, ‘RICKY PIKE 1988 - 2012.” Pike Davis then stood, shaking, and cried tears of joy.
“I just grabbed the sergeant and squeezed him,” she said. “They came in and I was really emotional.”
“I lost my life, I feel like a zombie,” she said late Tuesday during a telephone interview. “I truly, truly appreciate what they’ve done, and I let them know that.”
The man in custody, Arcadio Davila, 24, had been initially questioned after Ricky Pike, also 24, was killed and a friend wounded as they sat in a car near the survivor’s home in the 2100 block of North St. Louis Avenue on Aug. 3, police said. Davila was released but was picked up again Monday morning at his Northwest Side home.
But after he was finally charged Tuesday with first-degree murder and attempted murder, Gillespie and Lally stood behind Mitchell and next to the collage, allowing themselves to enjoy the “bittersweet” moment, all while knowing that other unsolved murder cases await their attention.
“To us it’s terrible, it’s a murder victim. But to her, it’s her son. And I’m sure it’s something that she lives with everyday,” Lally told the Tribune, alongside his two colleagues, in an interview at Area North headquarters Wednesday afternoon. “To see Maria Pike’s gratitude, everything else takes a backseat to that.”
During Davila’s bond hearing Wednesday, Cook County prosecutors said Davila pulled up alongside Pike’s Geo Prism, said “What's up,” and fired six to 10 shots. Pike was hit several times and his friend was wounded in the hand. Prosecutors said Pike's friend identified Davila in a line-up.
Three years earlier, Pike had lost his best friend Frankie Valencia to gun violence in the same Logan Square neighborhood.
Valencia, a 21-year-old DePaul University student, was shot to death and another student wounded.
Friends said Pike and Valencia had made big plans together. Pike, who loved to cook, was going to own a restaurant. Valencia was mulling a career in politics.
Davila shook his head back and forth during the hearing as prosecutors detailed the charges. Judge Donald Panarese Jr. set bail at $1.5 million.
His attorney, Assistant Public Defender Marijane Placek, questioned why Davila was charged more than seven months after the murder if he had been questioned last August and the wounded victim had recognized him on the night of the shooting.
After court, Placek said Chicago police, under pressure to solve homicides because of mounting attention to the city’s gun violence, “rounded up the usual suspects” and charged her client.
Davila has been arrested about 20 times since 2005, according to court records. Just last month, he appeared in court on reckless conduct charges and was sentenced to five days in Cook County Jail, according to the records.
Pike Davis said she had contacted detectives every few weeks, and even did research and shared her findings with police. She would drop in on detectives in the middle of the night to ask about their progress.
She plastered the Logan Square neighborhood with posters asking neighbors to tell police if they saw anything. All the while, she kept visiting the spot where her son was shot in the early morning hours of Aug. 3.
She has also worked with other mothers whose children have been killed, often with an organization started by Valencia’s mother. Hearing the stories of the other mothers, she wondered if she’d ever see her son’s killer brought to justice.
“From all the conversations I had with the other moms, I was discouraged a little bit. Maybe it may happen, maybe not,” she said. “And the sergeant said, 'Well, we know your son didn’t deserve it and (the other man) didn’t deserve it either.' “
Pike Davis most recently checked in with police Tuesday afternoon while prosecutors were reviewing the case. The sergeant had promised to meet Pike Davis if charges were approved.
“When you see somebody, you know they’ve experienced the ultimate loss, and they’ll never get over that,” said Mitchell. “But to be able to provide them with at least some sort of an answer to the multitude of questions I’m sure they have, it is satisfying.”
He and the two other detectives acknowledged how the effort in solving cases like these takes a toll on them because of all the long hours required.
Still, Gillespie said: “You kind of push that to the side. You don’t really think about it. Most of us are lucky we’ve got families that understand.”
The trio also credited Detectives Jim Labbe, Jeff Hansson and Dave Healey who worked on the Pike case early on in the investigation. Labbe was recently promoted to sergeant.
On Wednesday afternoon, Pike Davis said she understands that many parents who have also lost a loved one to violence have waited longer than she has for any kind of answers.
The next step, she says, is to find out during Davila’s trial what was going through his head when he decided to take her son’s life.
“No one (could) understand the devastation that comes with losing a child,” she said.
Tribune reporter Jason Meisner contributed to this story.
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