Pain Into Purpose: In Search of Justice for Miguel Rios

It’s a full house at Catalina Andrade’s home. The boys are playing basketball. But without their older brother Miguel. 

“He is the one that taught me everything I know,” said Alexander Rios, 14. “He was really good. 

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They have their memories, pictures and things that remind them of Miguel Angel Rios. 

July will make two years since the last time Catalina Andrade heard her son Miguel’s voice. 

“He came into my room and said mom I love you and he hugged me, but I never thought it was going to be his last hug.” 

On the night of July 18, 2020, Miguel was shot and killed in Little Village. Miguel and his father had stayed in Chicago to work while the rest of his family were in Mexico.

“What I know is that he went out late to see the girlfriend. They were probably going to meet. Since the girlfriend didn’t answer he decided to come back, and he was targeted, and they shot him and robbed him,” Catalina said.

During a time of year when many families are thinking about family trips or graduations, Miguel’s brothers and sisters are adjusting to life without their brother. 

“Me and him would always talk about school and how I was going to go to high school,” said 15-year-old Anadelaih Rios. “And he was going to drive me there and he would go to college after. 

Miguel — nicknamed “Chipo” — had just graduated from UIC College Prep. He had a summer job and his family says he was looking forward to attending the University of Illinois Chicago to pursue mechanical engineering. 

“He would always be playing around with my mom,” said 22-year-old Carina Rios. “‘Oh, I’m going to make you a grandma. I’m going to have a lot of kids.’” 

Emily Rios, 10, still has questions as she sorts through her feelings.

“I wasn’t ok. I just saw everyone sad, and I didn’t want to cry in front of my family because I felt it would make it worse because my mom was really affected by my brother’s death,” Emily said.

Catalina has had meetings with the police, the mayor and the state’s attorney but there’s been no progress on his case.

“They took everything from him. My son did not deserve what they did to him. It’s just a shame that I’m going on two years, and there’s nobody in custody and paying for what they did, and it just hurts me,” Catalina said.

While she continues to be Mom at home, Catalina’s also learning to navigate the criminal justice system. 

“I don’t find a purpose why. This violence is out of control. Something needs to be changed with these gun laws. People are out here with clips,” she said.

And there are lasting impacts at home.

“My mom doesn’t let me go out because she is scared for my life, and I get where she is coming from. It’s not safe out here,” Alexander said.

Anadelaih now hopes to do something in criminal justice, in honor of her brother.

“I want to carry him as a motivation to move on educational-wise and helping my mom out the way that he did and be somebody great like he was to be.” 

Catalina is also part of the campaign Mothers and Families for Justice, a movement created to bring awareness to dozens of mothers with unsolved cases.

“I think he will be happy because he always knew the strong mom he had, and I think he would be happy with what I’m doing. I’m not going to let this go, I don’t want my son’s murder to be another number to the city.” 

 A three-part series from WTTW News, Pain Into Purpose tells the stories of three grieving mothers whose children have been killed by gun violence and the ways in which they turned that pain into action. Their stories will air May 23 - 25 on “Chicago Tonight.”

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