(The Center Square) – A 36-year-old caseworker with the Department of Children and Family Services was stabbed to death while working on Tuesday.
Deidre Silas, a mother of two and an investigator for the state Department of Children and Family Services, was in Thayer, south of Springfield, on Tuesday when she was stabbed to death. Law enforcement officials said children were present.
The Sangamon County Sheriff's Office reported Benjamin H. Reed, 32, of the 300 block of West Elm, Thayer, was arrested in connection with the crime later Tuesday in Decatur.
Reed was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Police officers from Pawnee, Auburn and Divernon responded to a 911 call at about 4:11 p.m. Tuesday regarding a possible stabbing in the 300 block of West Elm, in Thayer. Sangamon County Sheriff's deputies arrived soon after police. Law enforcement officers saw a substance that appeared to be blood near the door of the residence. When they forced their way into the home, they found Silas dead inside, according to the Sheriff's Office.
"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," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. "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."
DCFS Director Marc Smith said the agency was mourning a colleague.
"The Department of Children and Family Services is deeply saddened by the tragic death of our colleague, Deidre Silas," Smith said in a statement. "Our most heartfelt condolences, thoughts and prayers are with her family during this very difficult time. Social work is more than just a job, it is a calling. Deidre responded to this call and dedicated herself to the children, families and communities she served, and we will be forever grateful for her work. She was an incredible person, and her brightness and positivity will be missed not only by her family and friends, but also her second family at DCFS."
Sangamon County Coroner Jim Allmon said preliminary findings from an autopsy Wednesday suggest Silas died of multiple sharp force injuries and blunt force trauma, Allmon said.
The Sangamon County Coroner’s Office and the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office are investigating.