Danelo Solis faces first degree murder and other charges in the death of Dorothy Taylor. He also faces charges in the death of Taylor's dog.
Over the weekend, the woman's family was speaking out about her accused killer.
Police say Solis beat, strangled and raped Taylor inside her apartment building on the South Side Monday, but they have not released a motive.
The suspect is a 25-year-old handyman with only minor offenses in his criminal record.
In an exclusive interview with ABC7 Chicago, the woman who hired the man to do odd jobs told what happened in the hours leading up to the sexual assault and murder of her neighbor, a well-regarded senior citizen.
With the news of the arrest Saturday came relief but not much comfort for the Dorothy Taylor's family.
"Because of God and my family, we are going to get through this," said Derrick Taylor, the victim's only son.
The suspect's face was a familiar one to residents near 7232 South Coles. Danelo Solis was a handyman who had been hired off-and-on for the last six months by tenants of the building.
"He was actually in our house that morning for two and a half hours," said Dee Trich, who hired the suspect.
Triche hired Solis to install an air conditioner in her apartment. That's what he was doing Monday when he allegedly strangled and raped 71-year-old Dorothy Taylor before also turning his rage on the woman's dog.
"He was extremely depressed, then extremely high, then extremely low. It was really something remarkable to watch," Triche told ABC7 Chicago.
Police say it was a tip from someone who knew the handyman that led detectives to him. Almost immediately, police say, Mr. Solis implicated himself in the murder.
"He was there to do a job. He encountered her. There was a disagreement that led to her death," Chicago police Cmdr. Eddie Welch said.
"If this individual needed something and asked for it, more than likely my mom would have given it to him. This did not have to happen," said Derrick Taylor.
More than a dozen of Ms. Taylor's relatives were at the police station to hear the announcement of an arrest for themselves.
For the victim's only son, an Air Force veteran, the pain of his mother's death pales to anything he's seen in war zones around the world.
"I've been to Iraq, Afghanistan and places in Africa I won't mention, but nothing compares to this, nothing at all," he said.
Triche told ABC7 Chicago that Solis spent much of the morning fretting over feeding his family. She was home when the alleged killing occurred, four floors below, but she says she heard nothing.
Two other senior citizens have been murdered on the South Side in the last year, but police say they have no evidence to suggest Solis could be responsible.