A Chicago man, Dominic Sanders, is accused in the murder of Andrea Urban, a 51-year-old actress, mother, and medical marijuana activist.
Urban was found with blunt force trauma in her home in early May in Hinsdale, a western Chicago suburb of about 16,000 people.
On May 26, police announced that Sanders is expected to be charged in the case. Authorities said in a news release that they would provide additional details in the case on May 27 after Sanders appears for a bond hearing.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Urban Was found Murdered Inside Her Home by Her 16-Year-Old Son
The mother of two was found murdered inside her own home in Hinsdale.
According to a press release from Hinsdale police, Urban, a resident of Hinsdale, was discovered murdered May 4 in her home in the 700 block of Town Place by a family member. Fox32 reported that Urban’s 16-year-old son was the person who found her beaten to death. She had suffered “multiple blunt force trauma,” according to Fox 32.
Police said they were pursuing leads, reviewing physical evidence and interviewing people.
On May 19, Hinsdale police wrote on Facebook, “In regards to the Andrea Urban investigation, it is proceeding on course, but is a process that takes time. We ask for patience as we continue our investigation.”
At one point, police asked neighbors to submit any video surveillance footage they might have of the day of the murder.
“Identifying the person or persons responsible for Ms. Urban’s homicide is our number one priority,” Hinsdale Police Chief Kevin Simpson said in a May 9 press release. “We continue to follow up on tips, pursue new leads and are eager to see the results of analysis of physical and computer evidence that we submitted to experts for their review.”
Police now say they have the guy: Sanders. However, they have not yet specified what led them to him, nor have they revealed a motive in the case.
2. The Victim Was a Leukemia Survivor Who Advocated for Medical Marijuana Use
Urban was known for the many different roles she played, but they all boiled down to a passion to make a difference.
“She was a devoted mother, a sister, a daughter, and a friend to many. She was a free spirit, an actress, an advocate, and a fighter,” a GoFundMe site established to help her children says.
She was a survivor.
“Before her death, Andrea had been fighting a 13-year mental and physical battle with chronic myeloid leukemia. She used her good days to work as an actress, trying to make ends meet and spend time with her children, always assuring they had a loving home in the midst of the turmoil,” the site says.
She had advocated for medical marijuana use to treat cancer pain. On April 20, she spoke at a Chicago event to advocate for medical marijuana use, according to a video of the event posted by The Chicago Tribune.
“Andrea has touched all of us in different ways,” the GoFundMe site says. “Perhaps you knew her from her childhood days, from Hinsdale Middle School or Hinsdale Central; perhaps you knew her at Drake University or through her acting and theater groups, her church, or from one of the various neighborhoods she called home. Perhaps you were moved by reading her essays or hearing her at a speaking engagement where she turned her devastation into a calling, advocating for alternative methods to treat cancer pain.”
According to Fox 32, Urban found work in commercials. She was divorced in 2006. In 2015, “she got an order of protection against a man she said threatened and abused them. The same records allege the man was physically abusive to her in the past,” reported Fox 32, which did not name that man. It’s not clear whether that past had any nexus to the murder.
3. Sanders’ Family Argues He’s Innocent
Sanders, 30, is from the south side of Chicago, according to WGN.
According to ABC 7, Sanders’ family says he’s innocent of the allegations. Sanders has an attorney. “Sanders’ attorney, Steven Goldman, said his client was taken to the Burr Ridge Police Department for questioning,” reported CBS Chicago.
Police recently “put out a critical reach bulletin to law enforcement only” that included a photo of a “person of interest” they wanted to speak with in connection to Urban’s murder, ABC 7 reported. It’s not clear whether that person was Sanders.
In the May 9 press release, Hinsdale police said they submitted “ample physical evidence collected from Ms. Urban’s home” to the DuPage County Sheriff’s Crime Lab for testing and analysis. They were also submitting Urban’s electronic devices to the Federal Bureau of Investigation computer forensics lab for analysis.
“As eager as we are to get that analysis back, we know that a thorough and painstaking examination of physical land computer evidence is a time consuming process,” the police chief said at that time. “So we just need to be patient on that front and continue to pursue other leads related to the investigation.”
4. There’s a Fundraising Site Set Up to Help Urban’s Family
Urban was a mother of two young children.
“Her children are forever changed,” the GoFundMe site says.
“Andrea’s world revolved around her two beautiful children: her son, Sasha, a senior in high school and her daughter, Daria, a fifth grader. As a single mother, Andrea wanted nothing more than to watch her children grow and bloom. She consistently encouraged them to believe in themselves and that they could be anything they wanted to be.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, Urban had lived in Russia and New York but was born in Hinsdale, Illinois, where she lived at the time of her death.
According to ABC 7, Urban’s children are now staying with family.
5. The Suspect Was Due in Court & Police Said Previously They Didn’t Think the Homicide Was Random
Hinsdale police said May 9 that they “have no reason to suspect that Ms. Urban’s homicide was a random act.”
They said they were conducting interviews with Urban’s friends and associates, which were generating additional leads. However, they have not yet said whether Sanders knew Urban or not.
According to ABC 7, neighbors placed paper lanterns throughout the block where Urban lived to remember her. There was a $5,000 reward being offered in the case, ABC 7 reported.
This article will be updated as more information becomes known about the suspect.