A heartbreaking story happened over the weekend as 19-year-old University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) honor student Ruth George was raped and murdered after she ignored advances and catcalling from a paroled convict.
According to Cook County prosecutors on Tuesday, Nov. 26, while walking to her car in a UIC parking garage, George received catcalling from 26-year-old Donald D. Thurman. The student ignored it and when she reached her car, Thurman grabbed her from behind and put her in a chokehold. “With his arm still wrapped around her neck, Thurman dragged an unconscious George to her car and threw her in the back seat, where he sexually assaulted her, prosecutors said,” the Chicago Tribune added.
Tracing her cellphone to the parking garage, George’s sisters and UIC police found her body in the backseat. She died from strangulation, a medical examiner said.
According to Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy, Thurman “thought she was pretty and tried talking to her, but the victim ignored him.” Thurman allegedly launched the attack after he grew “angry he was being ignored.”
Thurman was sentenced in August 2016 for armed robbery but released from prison in December 2018. He was sentenced to six years, but only served a little more than two years and is currently on parole.
Video surveillance footage of Thurman in the parking garage and a recovered palm print from George’s car led police to the suspect.
On Sunday, he confessed to attacking and assaulting the teen but “denied having sexual intercourse with her.”
However, authorities found a discarded condom in George’s car” and Thurman admitted “that his DNA would be all over the scene.”
CBS Chicago’s Charlie De Mar reported on Monday, Nov. 25 that Thurman was formally charged with first-degree murder and aggravated sexual assault of George. Assistant Public Defender Valerie Panozzo, who’s been appointed to defend Thurman, claimed on Tuesday that the suspect has a history of issues regarding “mental health.”
George’s family said she was a devout Christian who lived out her deep faith in Jesus by loving and serving others.
“She was the beloved baby of our family. We grieve with hope. We hold no hatred toward 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,” her mother said in a statement on Tuesday.
George, who was known to her friends as “Ruthie,” studied physical therapy and was an honor student at the university.
“We will never forget how big her smile was when she was named ‘Rangi Mtoto’ or Baby Color,” the Delta Epsilon Mu fraternity, which George joined in 2018, said in a statement. “That was the perfect name for her because she brought color into the lives of everyone around her.”
A GoFundMe campaign organized by the fraternity to help George’s family with funeral arrangements and other costs had raised more than $30,000, higher than the target of $25,000 as of Thursday.