Chicago: Ruth George, a physical therapy student, wanted to help other people heal, her family said in the wake of her death. The 19-year old student at the University of Illinois at Chicago was at a professional fraternity event and returned with a friend, who parted ways. Ruth walked alone to her her car in a parking garage, authorities said.
She caught the attention of a stranger, Donald Thurman, who tried talking to her after she walked by, said James Murphy, the assistant state's attorney for Cook County. "The defendant was angry that he was being ignored," Murphy said in a statement. George's next moments, according to police, bring to bare the nightmarish, harrowing reality for women on any given day, particularly when encountering a man, alone, on a darkened street.
Thurman, 26, pursued Ruth and closed in while he "catcalled" her throughout the garage, Murphy said. Thurman “thought she was pretty” and wanted to talk to Ruth. She arrived at her car, but Thurman choked her from behind and dragged her into the car, where he sexually assaulted her before fleeing. At home, Ruth's sisters grew concerned when she was late, prosecutors said, and they contacted police. Her cellphone location pinged to the garage. Along with police, Ruth's friends and family discovered her in the car, cold and unresponsive with her clothes half off. Drag marks from her shoes and fingers suggested there was a struggle, officials say. They tried CPR, but she was pronounced dead at the scene, Murphy said.
Police identified his face on video, which prompted them to set up additional surveillance to see if he returned to the area near a subway stop, Murphy said. He was spotted and arrested when he did return, and the white jacket which he had taken from Ruth was recovered at his home. Thurman was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated sexual assault following a confession, university police said in a statement. Prosecutors said he was being held with no set bail. Reportedly, Thurman was on parole after a robbery conviction in 2016.
A memorial on campus for Ruth was adorned with flowers and framed photos showing her with a wide smile. "She was the beloved baby of our family," Ruth's family said in a statement. "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." She was known fondly as "Ruthie" on campus, university chancellor Michael Amiridis said.