UIC police releases surveillance video in connection to murder, sexual assault of student

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CHICAGO — Investigators released surveillance video of the man accused of killing a University of Illinois at Chicago student in a campus parking garage.

UIC police released dozens of pages of reports and surveillance video Wednesday from the investigation into the murder and sexual assault of 19-year-old Ruth George.

Donald Thurman, 26, was charged with first-degree murder and sexual assault in in connection to George's dead, whose body was found Nov. 23 in a parking garage on the UIC campus.

George had just returned to campus early morning on Nov. 23 before she was attacked. She had just attended a semi-formal event for a co-ed fraternity she belonged to for students interested in a medical profession. She and a friend were dropped off by a Lyft driver. The friend went to her dorm, while George walked by herself to her car. Prosecutors said that's when Thurman spotted her.

Prosecutors said Thurman thought George was pretty and attempted to talk to her, but she ignored him. He admitted to choking and sexually assaulting George because he “was angry that he was being ignored.”

Surveillance video shows Thurman following George into the UIC parking garage on Halsted and Taylor streets around 1:30 a.m. that night where prosecutors said he tried to talk to her again. When she continued to ignore him, officials said he put her in a choke hold until she passed out, dragged her into her car and sexually assaulted her in the backseat.

About 35 minutes later, Thurman was seen running from the garage and through campus.

George's family became concerned when she didn't return home. Later that day, with the help of UIC police, her family was able to ping her cellphone to the parking lot.

Her sisters were with police when they found her unconscious in the backseat of her car. Cook County Assistant State's Attorney James Murphy said her sisters attempted to resuscitate her until paramedics arrived, but she was pronounced dead on the scene.

According to the Cook County Medical Examiner, George was strangled to death.

Police said they were able to identify Thurman on several surveillance videos, including private and CTA cameras because of a distinctive puffy white jacket he was wearing. They staked out the area to see if he would return, which he did around 2 a.m. Sunday.

Thurman was arrested that Sunday and police said he confessed on video to choking and sexually assaulting George.

"The defendant denied that he had sexual intercourse with her but he knew that his DNA would be all over the scene," Murphy said.

Evidence found at the scene includes, according to prosecutors, a condom that was found on the floor of George's car, which they said had semen inside.

Prosecutors said Thurman's palm print was also found on her car.

Thurman was on parole at the time of the alleged attack for an armed robbery in 2016.  He had been sentenced to six years, but had been released after only serving two years. His public defender said he has a history of mental health issues.

Thurman is due back in court on Dec. 16.

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