COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURT — A man accused of murdering and sexually assaulting a UIC student followed her to a campus parking garage because he was “angry” she ignored his catcalling, prosecutors alleged.
During the early morning hours Saturday, Donald Thurman, 26, followed Ruth George as she passed the UIC CTA Blue Line stop at Halsted on her way to the University of Illinois at Chicago parking garage at Halsted and Taylor streets. Thurman made several attempts to talk to George, but she ignored him and walked on, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said in court Tuesday.
As George got to her car, Thurman “was angry that he was being ignored” and starting choking the 19-year-old UIC sophomore from behind until she was unconscious, Murphy said.
Thurman dragged her body into the backseat and proceeded to sexually assault her before leaving the parking garage 30 minutes later, he said.
A palm print and used condom were left behind in the driver’s side seat. Thurman also made a recorded video confession to officers, prosecutors said.
Thurman denied having sexual intercourse with the victim but said he knew his “DNA would be all over the scene,” according to Murphy.
Thurman is charged with first-degree murder and criminal sexual assault.
Thurman’s attorney requested he be placed in protective custody after receiving death threats. His attorney also said he has experienced homelessness and suffers from mental health issues.
Cook County Judge Charles Beach II ordered Thurman held without bail.
On Saturday morning, George’s body was found in the backseat of a family car at the campus parking lot after her family reported her missing to campus police.
George’s sisters attempted to resuscitate her until paramedics arrived, but she was pronounced dead at the scene, Murphy said.
The 19-year-old, a 2018 graduate of Naperville Central High School from Berwyn, died of strangulation, said Natalia Derevyanny, a spokeswoman for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
University cameras caught George entering the parking garage at 1:35 a.m. Saturday, followed by Thurman, police said. Thurman was recorded leaving the parking garage at 2:10 a.m. and walking southbound on Halsted Street, according to school officials.
After UIC police reviewed campus footage, CTA footage and Chicago Police cameras, detectives took Thurman into custody about 2 a.m. Sunday near the UIC Blue Line station.
Thurman was on parole after being released from prison December 2018 on an armed robbery conviction, UIC officials said.
In a statement, UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis said the university community is “grieving” George’s “tragic death.”
George, a kinesiology student, was a member of the University’s Honors College and wanted to become a physical therapist, Amiridis said.
She was “always there to lend a hand to her peers, many of whom would seek her out because of her compassion for others,” he said.
“As a campus community, we have shed many tears for her over the last three days. But our collective pain pales in comparison with the ordeal her family is and will be going through for days, months and years to come. Our thoughts and our hearts are with Ruthie’s family and friends this evening,” Amiridis said.