Ruth George’s attacker lost his temper when she ignored his remarks, and so he decided to strangle and sexually assault her, according to the prosecutors.
Trigger warning: This story contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault and murder.
A 19-year-old girl was brutally murdered after she ignored a random man's catcalls. On Saturday, Ruth George, a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Chicago, was walking alone towards her car parked at a garage on the UIC campus. At around 1:30 a.m. when George passed a bus stand, the accused Donald Thurman, saw her and "thought she was pretty and tried talking to her," according to the prosecutors. Since she didn't know Thurman, George chose to ignore him. A surveillance video shows how Thurman then followed George to where her car was parked and catcalled her again. However, his advancements were met with deafening silence, according to a report by Fox 19.
Court documents noted that Thurman "was angry that he was being ignored" and so he grabbed her neck from behind and held her in a chokehold, which knocked her unconscious. He then threw George into the back of the car before sexually assaulting her. Her worried parents alerted the police on Saturday morning after their daughter did not come home on Friday night. After tracking the signals from George's phone, the authorities discovered her lifeless body in the back seat of the car around 11. a.m. that morning. The cause of death was determined to be strangulation by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
After analyzing the footage, police officers were able to identify Thurman, who was present in the same area on Sunday. Thurman, 26, was charged with one count of first-degree murder and criminal sexual assault on Monday. Previously, he was convicted of armed robbery but was released on parole in 2018 after serving two years in prison. Several students and members of the staff and alumni orchestrated a vigil for the deceased at a student center that night. The director of the school's Women's Leadership and Resource Center, Natalie Bennett, received a poem to honor George's memory, reports USA Today.
Furthermore, Bennett shared how the center had recently held a discussion event on women of color and violence. One student at the vigil revealed that George had 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," said Michael D. Amiridis, UIC's Chancellor in a statement on Sunday.
Men, please be aware that when you catcall a woman she has no way of knowing whether you are THIS guy👇🏽— The Duchess of Science (@broad_science) 27 November 2019
If we don't respond angrily it is not because you aren't being a dick or that we secretly find it charming, it is because we are afraid of you 🙏🏽https://t.co/1g48fYvMfu
In 2018, George graduated from Naperville Central High School in the western suburb of Chicago, where she competed on the gymnastics team. "Ruth was such a sweet girl and had the biggest and brightest smile," said gymnastics coach and school staff member Christina Tardy. "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." Two students were standing near the bus stand that George had crossed before her death. Speaking to The New York Times, one of them, Maryann Tharian, 20, said, "We were just talking about what happened. We've all had experienced being catcalled. We’d do the same thing Ruth did. Ignore them and keep walking. It’s just terrifying."