Chilling details reveal UIC student Ruth George's final moments; man charged with murder, sex assault denied bail

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019
Man charged with murder, sex assault of UIC student Ruth George denied bail
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Donald Thurman, charged in the murder of UIC student Ruth George at a campus parking lot, was denied bail Tuesday.

CHICAGO -- The man charged in the murder of UIC student Ruth George at a campus parking garage was denied bail Tuesday.

Donald Thurman, 26, is charged with first-degree murder and sexual assault. Police said he has confessed to the crime and has a criminal history.

Judge Charles Beach II ordered Thurman held without bail, after Cook County prosecutors said he admitted to the attack. He has no connection to UIC and did not know George, police said.

The 19-year-old sophomore was found strangled in the backseat of her family's car at a UIC parking garage near Halsted and Taylor streets.

Police said surveillance video shows Thurman at about 1:35 a.m. Saturday following George into the garage and then leaving a half hour later.

Thurman allegedly confessed after being arrested Sunday morning at the nearby Harrison and Halsted Blue Line stop. Investigators said they had staked out that station after tracking his travel patterns with the help of nearby cameras.

"The defendant was angry that he was being ignored. The defendant came up behind the victim, grabbed her around the neck from behind, and put her into a choke hold," said Cook County Asst. State's Attorney James Murphy. "With his arms still wrapped around the victim's neck the defendant dragged the victim from the ground and he opened her back seat car door."

Prosecutors said Thurman sexually assaulted the already unconscious George. A palm print and DNA evidence left behind linked him to the crime, which has rocked campus and devastated her family.

Yellow ribbons were hung around campus in memory of George, who was nicknamed "Baby Color." Monday night, dozens of people gathered at the place where George was killed, remembering the honors student who dreamed of becoming a health professional.

"It's very shocking because I don't really hear things that often happening at this campus, but like I said, this is Chicago," said UIC student Myles Turner.

"I feel bad for the parents of Ruth George and I couldn't imagine what they go through with this tragedy," said Paul Santana, the parent of a UIC student.

George was a sophomore, an honors student and a kinesiology major. She graduated from Naperville Central High School.

The George family has asked for privacy. Ruth's mother issued a statement saying, "Ruth lived out her deep faith in Jesus by loving and serving others, leaving a legacy of Christ-centered kindness and sacrifice. She was the beloved baby of our family. 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."

Meanwhile, a memorial for Ruth George continues to grow as mourners pause to remember her.

"It's sad, it's tragic. To see something like this at a campus like this, it's just sad to see," said UIC student Daniel Annor. "I just hope that he gets what he deserves. I hope justice is served."

One father brought flowers to the memorial, thinking of the horrible crime.

"My heart is just broken," said Dwayne Jackson. "I have three daughters of my own and they all went to college and they all went away and to have this type of thing happen just touched me."

Funeral arrangements for George will remain private, as her family continues to grieve the young woman's loss.

Thurman is on parole for armed robbery, serving two years of a six-year sentence.

According to CPD records, Thurman was convicted at a bench trial of being involved in an "aggravated vehicular hijacking." He was charged with taking a female victim's cell phone while a male victim was being held at gunpoint. After taking the phone, he got into the male victim's 2011 Black Ford Escape and was picked up by police after "fleeing on foot."