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Indian-origin teen sexually assaulted, killed in Chicago

The woman came from Hyderabad and was an honours student at the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC). She was found dead in the back seat of a family-owned vehicle on Saturday.

indians-abroad Updated: Nov 27, 2019 00:06 IST
HT Correspondent and Agencies
HT Correspondent and Agencies
Washington
The assailant, Donald Thurman, 26, was arrested Sunday from a Chicago metro station. He is not associated with the university.
The assailant, Donald Thurman, 26, was arrested Sunday from a Chicago metro station. He is not associated with the university. (HT Photo)

A 19-year-old Indian-origin student was sexually assaulted and strangled to death at a campus parking garage in Chicago by a man on parole, police said on Monday, according to reports.

The woman came from Hyderabad and was an honours student at the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC). She was found dead in the back seat of a family-owned vehicle on Saturday.

The 26-year-old assailant, Donald Thurman, was arrested on Sunday from a Chicago metro station. He is not associated with the university.

On Monday, he was formally charged with first-degree murder and aggravated sexual assault. He is scheduled to appear before a judge on Tuesday, media reports said.

The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide by strangulation. According to the university, the victim was a sophomore (second year student) and kinesiology major.

The university said in a statement that her family reported to the University Police on Saturday that she had not been heard from since Friday evening.

Her phone was “pinged” to the Halsted Street Parking Garage, and police and family members responded to find her unresponsive in the back seat of a vehicle owned by her family. Efforts to revive her failed and the medical examiner has said she died of strangulation, according to reports. Police then requested the FBI Evidence Response Team to assist it in the processing of the crime scene and to complete forensics on the vehicle.

According to the university, police retrieved video footage from existing university cameras of the offender who was seen walking behind her on Saturday.

UIC police chief Kevin Booker told reporters video footage from university’s cameras showed Thurman following the woman into the garage at 1.35am on Saturday and he was seen leaving 35 minutes later, walking.

Police then reviewed video footage from the Chicago Transit Authority, the Chicago POD cameras, and its internal system to determine his travel patterns.

Based on the observations, police detectives decided to watch the Blue line station during the hours that the offender had previously travelled on the Blue line.

Her, who came to the US from Hyderabad, released a statement saying, “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.”

Students of the university, who had gathered at the site of the crime on Monday, expressed shock at the incident. “It’s very shocking because I don’t really hear things that often happening at this campus, but like I said, this is Chicago,” Myles Turner, a UIC student told ABC7, referring to the city’s high murder rates.

Illinois records show Thurman was sentenced to six years in jail for a 2015 armed robbery conviction.e was released on parole in December 2018 after serving two years, Chicago Sun Times reported. His parole was to end in 2021, according to reports. Thurman was arrested on Sunday and taken into custody and subsequently gave a full confession to the crime.

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