Diedre Silas, a DCFS worker with the Illinois Department of Children and Families Services was stabbed to death during a Tuesday home visit. Police have arrested a suspect, Benjamin Reed, and are trying to understand what happened.
According to reports, Silas arrived at the Thayer home and responded to a report of children in danger. At the time, six children lived at the home, and they ranged in age from 1 to 7. Diedre Silas was stabbed around 4 p.m. and an autopsy report Wednesday morning listed her cause of death as “multiple sharp force injuries and blunt force trauma.”
Members of the Pawnee, Divernon, and Auburn police forces, along with deputies from the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office responded to the stabbing Tuesday afternoon and they had to force their way into the home. Officers first noticed blood outside the Illinois residence. Inside the Thayer house they found Silas’ body, but no suspect.
The suspect, 32-year-old Benjamin Reed was arrested around 6:30 p.m. that night. Decatur Police found him at St. Mary’s Hospital where he was being treated for a cut to his hand.
He was taken into police custody and charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Police have not found a motive for the crime, and they are still investigating the events that led up to Tuesday night’s stabbing.
Sangamon County State’s Attorney Dan Wright said that they are looking to file more charges against Benjamin Reed for the stabbing of the DCFS worker, but they are waiting for more information to be revealed about the crime.
It is reported that Reed lived in the home, but it’s unclear what his relationship was with the six children. According to Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell, the children inside the home were not injured during the stabbing, but he couldn’t confirm if they witnessed the crime.
All six children were removed from the home and taken in by the Department of Children and Family Services.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said that they will be looking into the crime to see if anything can be done to provide better safety for DCFS workers. They are also providing support for Silas’ coworkers as they deal with her death.
AFSCME Council 31 executive director Roberta Lynch said, “Our union is providing support to Deidre’s coworkers to help them process this trauma and aid their grieving. 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.”
After her death, Gov. JB Pritzker and his wife released a statement and offered their condolences to Deidre Silas’ family.
They said, “Today, the State of Illinois mourns the loss of Deidre Silas, a DCFS caseworker and a hero, taken from us in the line of duty. There is no higher calling than the work to keep children and families safe and Deidre lived that value every single day. Our most vulnerable are safer because she chose to serve. I can think of no more profound legacy. MK and I send our deepest condolences to her colleagues at DCFS, her family, and all who loved her.”
Silas had just started her job at DCFS in August. Before, she had worked for the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice for seven years. Diedre Silas had two young children, ages 2 and 5. A GoFundMe page has been set up to support them. So far, over $15,000 has been raised with an original goal of $100,000.
The page says, “You see Deidre’s kids are very special. They exude the same kindness, compassion and joy that others who have had the chance to interact with Deidre experienced. We ask for help for her kids because they need to know that although their mom was taken by a monster, she was also loved by many.”