A man charged with the murder of a Chicago college student followed her to her car after she ignored his catcalls, prosecutors alleged in court Tuesday.
The man, 26-year-old Donald Thurman, was seen trailing 19-year-old Ruth George as she walked into a parking garage early Saturday morning. He exited alone about half an hour later.
George’s family members contacted police the following morning when she had not returned home, and were able to trace her phone to the parking garage. There, police and family members discovered George’s body in the back seat of a car owned by the family.
“The defendant was angry that he was being ignored,” Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said, according to reports. He put her in a chokehold and later sexually assaulted her, police said.
A medical examiner ruled George’s death a homicide by strangulation.
George was an honor student at the University of Illinois at Chicago who hoped to become a physical therapist, according to a GoFundMe page set up by her professional fraternity to help her family cover the costs of her funeral. She graduated from nearby Naperville High School.
Her family said in a statement to a local ABC affiliate that George was their “beloved baby,” and asked for privacy.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the murder “alarming and devastating.”
“As a woman, I am shaken to my core by such cowardly violence. We hear all too often stories of women who are being cat-called or subject to other unwanted attention,” she said. “News flash to perpetrators of this type of harassment: women do not owe you anything. Ever.”
Police said they were able to apprehend Thurman by watching a Chicago Transit Authority train station he had previously used. Thurman gave a full confession, police claimed, after his arrest Sunday afternoon. A palm print on the George family car was also deemed a match.
The man’s attorney said in court Tuesday that he has a history of mental illness and is homeless. Thurman was released from prison in December 2018 after serving two years of a six-year sentence for armed robbery, and had been on parole at the time of George’s death.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.