DCFS worker stabbed to death during home visit

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THAYER, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Diedra Silas, a 36-year-old child protection specialist with the Department of Children and Family Services was stabbed to death while performing a home visit in Thayer on Tuesday afternoon. The Sangamon County Coroner’s office performed an autopsy on Silas Wednesday morning, and said the woman died of “multiple sharp force injuries and blunt force trauma.”

Six children, ages 1 to 7 years old, were present in the home in the 300 block of West Elm Street, according to Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell. Officers investigated the stabbing in the small rural town just after 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

“The Department of Children and Family Services is deeply saddened by the tragic death of our colleague, Deidre Silas,” agency director Marc Smith said in an emailed 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.”

Police officers from Pawnee, Divernon, Auburn, and deputies from the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office all responded to the scene and had to force their way inside the home where they found the victim’s body, but no sign of the suspect.

Later that night, Decatur police took 32-year-old Benjamin Reed into custody in connection with the stabbing. Officers located him at a hospital in Decatur where he was seeking medical treatment for a minor wound. Sangamon county detectives traveled to Decatur and interviewed Reed about the incident. Reed was due in court for a bond hearing Wednesday morning.

Wednesday morning, Sangamon County State’s Attorney Dan Wright said his office would file charges soon. Preliminary charges included first degree murder and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Silas, a Springfield native, has two young children. According to state records, she had just taken the job with DCFS last fall.

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