Sophomore honors student at the University of Illinois, Ruth George, was murdered when she tried to ignore 26-year-old Donald Thurman's advances.
Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault
Ruth George, 19, was a sophomore honors student at the University of Illinois. One night, she was walking to her car in the campus parking lot when Donald Thurman, 26, catcalled her. She ignored him — and that was her only crime. When she didn't respond to his advances, he began following her and put her in a chokehold after grabbing her from behind, The New York Times reports. Thurman has thankfully since been arrested and charged with first-degree murder and criminal sexual assault. This is why activists continue fighting for women's rights across the country and the world. Even in 2019, a woman does not have the right to say no.
Ruth George, a 19-year-old University of Illinois at Chicago student, was found dead in a UIC parking garage Saturday after being reported missing by her family. Authorities say she was strangled and a person of interest is in custody https://t.co/uwv16CZGT3 pic.twitter.com/ARtSQ7Duaj— Tom Cleary (@tomwcleary) November 25, 2019
The perpetrator was identified after George's family became worried when she did not return home on Friday night. On Saturday morning, the police tracked her cellphone and discovered her body in the parking garage. She was found lying face down in the back seat of her car. The police immediately scanned through surveillance footage from the parking lot in order to identify Thurman. He was spotted in the area again on Sunday and promptly arrested. He was previously convicted of armed robbery and was released on parole last year after having served two years for his crime.
Chicago woman ignored man's cat calls, so he raped and strangled her, prosecutors say: Donald Thurman is charged with the first-degree murder and sexual assault of University of Illinois at Chicago sophomore Ruth George. https://t.co/fRL1NbwWQX pic.twitter.com/Y4unAjCObN— Marcus Evans ⚛️ 🔬 🔭 (@MarcuswevansSr) November 26, 2019
George, unfortunately, was not the only one to have experienced harassment at this parking garage. According to other students at the University of Illinois, this experience is commonplace. Maryann Tharian, 20, a junior at the college, told The New York Times, "We were just talking about what happened. We’ve all had experiences being catcalled. We’d do the same thing Ruth did. Ignore them and keep walking. It’s just terrifying." Kayla Massey, a junior, also shares the same sentiment. Her reaction depends on the situation. Sometimes, she will become "belligerent," telling men to leave her alone. Other times, she remains quiet. "I’m a raging feminist about this stuff, especially safety and the double standard that still exists," she said. "Just knowing that there’s still this culture."
Following George's tragic and unnecessary death, a memorial was organized in her honor. In the grass just outside the parking garage, friends, family members, and peers have placed dozens of candles, bouquets of red roses, as well as handmade signs that read “Remember Ruth.” Her sister Esther George posted on social media platform Facebook, "She was the light of our family and the best of all of us." In addition to this, her family has released a moving statement, which affirms, "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 is currently being held without bail and now faces life in prison if convicted of the charges of first-degree murder and criminal sexual assault.