By Chris Tye


CHICAGO (CBS) — The man charged in the brutal death of a University of Illinois at Chicago student was denied bond Tuesday afternoon.

Donald Thurman was on parole for less than a year after serving time for armed robbery. Campus police said Thurman followed 19-year old sophomore Ruth George into a parking garage near Halsted and Taylor streets early Saturday morning.

He was formally charged with first-degree murder and aggravated sexual assault for the killing of George.

Police said he sexually assaulted and then strangled her.

Donald Thurman, Ruth George

Donald Thurman, 26, is charged with the murder of UIC student Ruth George. (Credit: UIC Police/Ruth Family/CBS 2)

As CBS 2’s Chris Tye reported, George was en route to a life in medicine when police said her path crossed with Thurman at the UIC-Halsted Blue Line stop.

George and a friend had been attending an event put on by Delta Epsilon Mu, a fraternity for future medical professionals at UIC. She and the friend took a Lyft, which dropped them off at the UIC-Halsted stop.

The friend went on to her dorm and George headed for the campus garage at Halsted and Taylor streets a few blocks to the south – but not, police say, before catching Thurman’s eye.

“The defendant thought she was pretty and tried talking to her,” said Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy. “But the victim ignored him.”

Just before 1:30 a.m. as George charged on to the parking garage, Thurman’s efforts to engage her took a hard turn, prosecutors said.

“The defendant followed the victim and tried to talk to her again, and then the defendant cat-called at her,” Murphy said.

Thurman was wearing what police said was a distinctive white jacket later found at his home. He got violent as she got to her car.

“When the victim arrived at her car, the defendant was angry that he was being ignored,” Murphy said. “The defendant came up behind the victim grabbed her around the neck from behind and put her in a chokehold.”

In the moments that follow, police say she passed out from strangulation. He dragged her into the back seat, sexually assaulted her, and left her for dead, prosecutors said.

Thurman left palm prints behind at the scene, prosecutors said.

The FBI helped campus police review surveillance video in their search for Thurman. Police said Thurman confessed to the killing.

He has no connection to either UIC or George.

Meanwhile, we dug into the 26-year-old’s past.

In 2016, he was convicted of armed robbery in Chicago. He snatched the female victim’s white iPhone from her hands and then fled in a stolen car on the Southwest Side.

Thurman was released last December after serving two and half years of his six year sentence.

Serving about half of a sentence is not that uncommon according to prosecutors, particularly in a case where Thurman did not use a weapon.

In the murder case, police arrested Thurman at that very same Blue Line stop where he first spotted George.

He barely spoke in court.

Her family released this statement:

“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.”

Thurman’s next court appearance is set for December 16.