Weather Updates

North Chicago dedicates Janay M. McFarlane Way to slain teen mom

On Friday April 26 2013 City North Chicago installs controversial street sign corner 13th Jacksbearing name Janay McFarlane Way memory

On Friday, April 26, 2013, the City of North Chicago installs a controversial street sign on the corner of 13th and Jackson bearing the name Janay McFarlane Way, in memory of the 18-year-old mom who was gunned down in an alley on February 15. Father Joe McFarlane talks about the controversy of the sign and what else he plans to do in his daughter's name. I Stacie Scott~for Sun-Times Media

storyidforme: 48323623
tmspicid: 17948444
fileheaderid: 8080924
Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: June 28, 2013 2:31AM

A new street sign in North Chicago, a memorial to Janay McFarlane, who was shot in the head and killed on Feb. 15 in an alley just north of 14th Street, offers a reminder, but no closure, for a grieving family.

“I see this as a beginning,” said the victim’s father, Herb “Joe” McFarlane, 45, of Beach Park, who wants to start a foundation to combat violence in the city.

“It’s a good reminder, not just for the city, but for the citizens in a high-crime area of the city,” McFarlane said. “When they see this sign, maybe they’ll think twice about pulling a gun. If the sign saves a life, that’s the whole idea.”

About 100 people, including NAACP Lake County Branch President Jennifer Witherspoon, members of the violence intervention group CeaseFire and Fifth Ward Alderman Torrance Abrams gathered on Friday at the corner of Jackson and 13th streets beneath a long, bronze street sign declaring “Janay M. McFarlane Way.” Another sign just like it was installed a block east at Victoria Avenue and 13th Street.

McFarlane, 18, of Chicago, was visiting family at the time of her murder, which occurred just hours after her younger sister, Destini, 15, appeared on stage with the president. Barack Obama had visited her South Side Chicago school, Hyde Park Academy, to call for stricter gun control. McFarlane, who left behind an infant son, six-month-old Jayden, had also been a student at Hyde Park.

Angela Blakely said her daughter dreamed of a career in culinary arts and that she loved children. Janay lavished attention on her many young cousins, including Aniyah Haney, 10, who cried softly on Friday as she clung to Blakely.

“The thing I really miss is how she used to make us laugh,” said Aniyah, who recalled that Janay braided her hair, took her trick-or-treating and welcomed her cousins night and day.

Police arrested Jim McPherson, 21, of North Chicago in connection with the murder. Joe McFarlane, who said that when he was 2, his own father was shot and killed in Chicago — a crime that was never solved — said a conviction for his daughter’s murder might help bring closure. As he stood below the new sign, which he publicly urged the city to install, he put a group of young people who gathered across the street on notice.

“You will not forget about Janay,” he said through a bullhorn. “We’ve got to wake up and stop acts like this. I don’t want anybody else to cry themselves to sleep.”

McFarlane said that the only other street signs in North Chicago for an African American felled by violence are those marking Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Janay became the first regular citizen, among an untold number of murder victims in the city, he said, to be so recognized.

Andre “Lele” Outlaw, 18, who knew Janay and said that she “lost her life for a song, for nothing,” noted that he will see the sign whenever he comes out of his house.

“We’re going to remember always,” Outlaw said.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.