The man charged with the sexual assault and murder of a teenage Indian-American student in Chicago grabbed her around the neck from behind and put her in a chokehold after she refused to talk to him or acknowledge his catcalls, prosecutors have said.
Donald Thurman, 26, is charged with the first-degree murder and sexual assault of Ruth George, whose body was found on Saturday in the backseat of her family’s car at a campus parking garage.
The gruesome details of the crime emerged during a bail hearing of Thurman.
The prosecutors told the court on Tuesday that Thurman had confessed to the crime.
George, 19, originally hailing from Hyderabad, was a second-year honours student at University of Illinois in Chicago. The medical examiner has ruled her death a homicide by strangulation.
Cook County prosecutor James Murphy said Thurman became angry after George did not respond to his catcalls when she was walking from the campus to the parking garage early on Saturday. He then followed George to the garage.
Thurman “thought she was pretty” and wanted to talk to George. She did not respond. This made him angry. He allegedly came behind her and put her into a chokehold until she was unconscious, the prosecution said during the bail hearing.
Murphy said surveillance cameras captured Thurman following George into the parking garage. The two did not know each other.
Thereafter, Thurman, who is on a parole, dragged her to the back seat of her car. He sexually assaulted her and left her on the car seat, Murphy said.
Judge Charles Beach II ordered that Thurman be held in custody without bail.
He faces up to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder and criminal sexual assault, Chicago Tribune reported.
Last December, Thurman was released on parole after he served two years of his six years of imprisonment for a 2015 armed robbery conviction. His next court appearance has been set for December 16.
Meanwhile, George’s family said in a statement they held 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,” the statement said.
“Ruth lived out her deep faith in Jesus by loving and serving others, leaving a legacy of Christ-centred kindness and sacrifice,” the statement said. “She was the beloved baby of our family,” it added.
George was studying kinesiology (the study of physiological, biomechanical and psychological dynamic principles and mechanisms of movement) with plans to become a physical therapist, according to officials at her university.
George’s family had migrated to the US around 30 years ago.