CHICAGO (CBS) — Five days after she was killed at random on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus, Chicagoans were remembering 19-year-old Ruth George this Thanksgiving.
George was the honor student who was killed in the back of her car in a campus parking garage at Halsted and Taylor streets last weekend.
As CBS 2’s Chris Tye reported Thursday, the efforts to pay tribute to George’s legacy have exceeded expectations the world over.
The news of George’s murder has reached India. And for Indian-Americans in Chicago, it hits close to their new home.
Dillip Paul and Kauschal Shetty spent their day Thursday contributing both to the vigil outside the UIC garage, and an online GoFundMe Account to help pay funeral costs.
“I’m getting reports from all my friends over there about this story here who are connected to the family,” Paul said.
The goal for the GoFundMe was to raise $25,000 – a goal that wildly exceeded in its first day by over 1,200 donors.
“I would love to go to the funeral, but we don’t know her personally. We just hard about it. And I don’t know – sometimes you just feel a connection to somebody,” Shetty said. “You’ve never met them. You’ve never seen them.”
This past Saturday, police said George had just exited out a rideshare, when Donald Thurman followed her into the UIC garage.
Thurman became enraged when the 19-year-old ignored his cat-calls, according to the Cook County state’s Attorney’s office.
At that point, police say Thurman grabbed George, strangled her, and sexually assaulted her in her car.
He was caught the next day after he was spotted on several cameras.
Thurman who served two years of a six-year sentence for robbery, had been on parole for less than a year.
“He should not have been released,” said activist Frank Coconate. “He should have been kept and monitored on a monitor service.”
On Thursday, Coconate was calling for tougher probation guidelines and government accountability, saying messages from Mayor Lori Lightfoot aren’t enough.
Lightfoot tweeted Wednesday night: “As a woman, I am shaken to my core by such cowardly violence. I will see to it that we do everything we can to ensure women feel safe and protected in our city.”
On Thursday night, the word “justice” was scrawled over the garage where last weekend’s attack occurred, rattling the nerves of Chicagoans hoping for justice and remembering Ruth George.
“It could have been anybody,” Shetty said. “It could be any of us tomorrow.”
As the vigil and the GoFundMe continued to grow, Thurman moved closer to his next court date. He is due in front of a judge on Dec. 16.