CHICAGO — A man who prosecutors say strangled a 19-year-old college student because she ignored his catcalls was ordered held without bail Tuesday.
Donald Thurman, 26, is charged with the first-degree murder and sexual assault of University of Illinois at Chicago sophomore Ruth George, whose body was found Saturday in the backseat of her family’s car at a campus parking garage.
Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said Tuesday that Thurman was “angry” that George was ignoring his catcalls and that he followed her into the garage, where he sexually assaulted and killed her around 2 a.m. Saturday morning, according to the Associated Press.
George’s family reported her missing to campus police Saturday, and her phone was tracked to the parking garage, according to the University. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office determined her death to be a homicide by strangulation. Campus police announced charges against Thurman Monday.
Hundreds of students, staff and alumni held a vigil for George at a student center that night. Natalie Bennett, director of the school’s Women’s Leadership and Resource Center, recited a poem in George’s memory. Bennett said that the center had recently held a discussion event on women of color and violence and that, at the vigil, one student revealed that George been part of making that discussion happen.
“All of us are devastated by the loss of Ruth George, a member of our Honors College and a talented kinesiology student with dreams and aspirations to become a health professional and help others. Our thoughts, our hearts and our condolences are with her family and friends during this trying period,” UIC Chancellor Michael D. Amiridis said in a statement Sunday.
George’s fraternity, Delta Epsilon Mu, a co-ed group for students interested in health professions, posted a message on its Facebook page Sunday about the death of their beloved member, nicknamed “Baby Color.”
To honor George’s bright spirit, students tied yellow ribbons around campus Monday.
George graduated from Naperville Central High School, in the western suburb of Chicago, in 2018, where she competed on the gymnastics team.
“Ruth was such a sweet girl and had the biggest and brightest smile,” school staff member and gymnastics coach Christina Tardy said in a statement. “We loved having her as a member of the NCHS gymnastics team and she was so fun to watch compete, especially on the floor exercise. She was a great teammate and we are going to miss her dearly.”
The school district said in a statement that the thoughts of its staff and administration remain with George’s family and friends during this difficult time.
UIC’s Office of Public Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.