A parolee charged with the slaying University of Illinois at Chicago honor student Ruth George inside a campus garage allegedly attacked her after she ignored his catcalls.
Donald Thurman, 26, was remanded following a bond hearing on charges he sexually assaulted and murdered the 19-year-old UIC student, who was found dead inside the back seat of her family car parked in a campus garage on Saturday morning.
The Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled George’s death a homicide by strangulation.
Thurman noticed George as she was walking by herself past a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Blue Line station near campus at around 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning, Cook County prosecutors detailed Tuesday at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, according to The Chicago Tribune.
Thurman “thought she was pretty” and followed her to the parking garage located on West Taylor and South Halstead Streets, according to Cook County Assistant State's Attorney James Murphy.
"The defendant was angry that he was being ignored,” Murphy said in court.
“The defendant came up behind the victim, grabbed her around the neck from behind, and put her into a chokehold,” Murphy continued. “With his arms still wrapped around the victim's neck the defendant dragged the victim from the ground and he opened her back seat car door."
Prosecutors accuse Thurman of tossing an unconscious George into the backseat of her car and sexually assaulting her, according to WLS-TV.
Surveillance cameras captured Thurman trailing George into the parking garage, prosecutors said. They also confirmed that George and Thurman didn’t know each other.
George's family became concerned when they couldn’t reach the promising kinesiology student from Berwyn, Illinois, and filed a report with campus police at around 11 a.m. Saturday.
Campus police, along with George's relatives, tracked George’s cell phone pings to the garage and discovered her “unresponsive” body in the rear seat of the family car, CBS News Chicago reported.
Medics were summoned to the garage but they couldn't revive her.
Investigators managed to recover key evidence from the family car, including a palm print that allegedly matched Thurman's. Authorities also found a discarded condom on the floorboard of George’s car. Also pulled as evidence was a white jacket that Thurman allegedly wore during Saturday’s attack, Murphy said, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.
Thurman, who was on parole for armed robbery, allegedly confessed to investigators that he attacked and sexually assaulted George, but refused to admit that he had intercourse with her, according to The Chicago Tribune.
Before she was attacked, Murphy said that George had spent time with friends at an event and had been dropped off near campus by a Lyft driver. Her friend walked to a dorm and George walked alone to fetch her car at the garage.
”Ruth lived out her deep faith in Jesus by loving and serving others, leaving a legacy of Christ-centered kindness and sacrifice,” a statement released by her mother on Tuesday reads, according to multiple outlets. “She was the beloved baby of our family. We grieve with hope. We hold no hatred towards the perpetrator, but our hope is no other girl would be harmed in this way and for a mother to never experience this type of heartache.”
Thurman had been freed after serving two years of a six-year prison sentence, WLS-TV reported.
The parolee had been convicted at a bench trial for "aggravated vehicular hijacking" which involved stealing a cell phone and 2011 Black Ford Escape at gunpoint before he was caught by cops.
If convicted of the murder and sexual assault charges, Thurman could face life in prison.
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