CHICAGO (CBS) — A suspect was charged Monday night in the murder of a 19-year-old University of Illinois at Chicago student.
As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported, Donald D. Thurman, 26, was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated sexual assault in the death of Ruth George, according to UIC Chief of PoliceKevin Booker.
Thurman was to be processed and transported from the UIC police station, where he has been held since he was arrested on Sunday, to a Chicago Police lockup, UIC police said.
Thurman’s most recent address was near the UIC campus, but he has no affiliation with the university or with the victim, UIC police said.
Thurman has a criminal record and was released from prison in December 2018 for armed robbery, UIC police said. He was sentenced to six years, but only served two and was on parole at the time of George’s murder, UIC police said.
An autopsy had determined that George was strangled in a homicide, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.
At 11:15 a.m. on Saturday, the mother and sister of Ruth George, of Berwyn, reported that she had not been heard from since the evening before, UIC police said. George was a sophomore kinesiology student.
The 19-year-old kinesiology and honors student was found after her cellphone was traced to the Halsted Street parking garage at Halsted and Taylor streets on campus.
Police said George entered the parking garage at 1:35 a.m. Saturday, and Thurman followed her in.
Thurman was later seen on surveillance video at 2:10 a.m. walking south on Halsted Street on the west side of the street, police said. In between 1:35 and 2:10 a.m., police say Thurman sexually assaulted and murdered George.
With help from the FBI, campus police then reviewed video footage from the Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago POD cameras, and the UIC internal surveillance video system to try to track the alleged assailant. UIC police detectives decided to watch the UIC-Halsted Blue Line station during hours that the suspect had previously traveled on the Blue Line.
Around 2 a.m. Sunday, UIC detectives saw someone matching the description of the assailant near the Blue Line station at Halsted and Harrison streets. He was arrested and confessed to the crime around 3:20 p.m. Sunday, police said.
On Monday night, at least 200 UIC students returned to the parking garage, lit candles, laid flowers, and said goodbye.
The campus has been in mourning since the weekend.
“The mood in my class was pretty somber,” said biology professor Mary Ashley.
Tyler Nielsen is coordinator in the honors college, where George was remembered in a ceremony today.
“She was an incredible student and an incredible person,” Nielsen said.
Friends and loved ones said George was known for her smile and sense of humor. Now that playful the memories of those she leaves behind.
“It’s a tragedy tenfold. She was such a vibrant part of the community. You can feel that pain already,” said Nielsen.
Ruth is survived by her mother, two sisters and members of her extended family.
Meanwhile, as to the area where the attack happened, it is no stranger to violent crime. In a half-mile radius around the parking garage in the 700 block of West Taylor Street, there have been a total of 56 robberies, 33 batteries and 36 assaults so far in 2019.
Most of those took place earlier in the year, but since October, there have been 12 robberies in the area.
Thurman is due for a bond hearing at noon Tuesday in Violence Court (Br. 66) at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse.
CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli contributed to this report.