Prince Watson, 17, is charged with felony murder and robbery in the March 28 incident. Police say Watson had stolen an iPhone from a Brown Line passenger as the train pulled into the elevated station. As he fled the scene, he alleged pushed Katona-King, 68, down the stairs at the Fullerton stop. Katona-King died the next day of head injuries from the fall.
Detective Michele Wood said Watson made a statement in the case, but said she could not give details at this time. She said stolen iPhones can be sold for as much as $300 on the street. "We believe he's selling them for cash," Chicago Police Detective John Korolis said of Watson.
Chicago Police Commander Gary Yamashiroya said detectives, supporting agencies, and the public all worked together to get a break in the case.
"I knew all these things, working together collaboratively, would get this case solved," said Commander Yamashiroya.
"It was a combination of witnesses, evidence obtained at the scene, and video evidence as well," Detective Korolis said. "There have been multiple CTA iPhone robberies. We've been investigating those. An ongoing investigation. We had a lead in the case, we backtracked and we came to Prince Watson."
Detective Wood said another detective saw video of the suspect and thought he recognized Watson. "When we started really looking at him as a good suspect, he was already in custody and already serving time for one of the prior robberies," Detective Wood said.
Watson was arrested on May 15 after he allegedly grabbed another woman's iPhone on the Clark/Division Red Line. He is serving a four-year sentence in that case.
Watson is also accused of stealing a cell phone from another CTA passenger on April 17, 2011, at the Sedgwick Stop. He faces a count of robbery in that incident.
Police said dozens of robberies involving electronic gadgets are reported on the CTA trains – and a majority of those are iPhones.
"It is very unfortunate that people can't just ride the train and not have to worry about those things," Terrell Parson, CTA passenger, said.
"It is very unfortunate that something like that would happen over such a frivolous matter. It is heightened awareness now and we need to be cautious," Sarah Sucher, CTA passenger, said.
Friends of Katona-King say they are glad there's more awareness following her death. Bishop Wayne Miller, who worked with Katona-King, said she would have been glad of that.
"She had an uplifting spirit and had a way of looking at the more positive side of things," Miller said.
Watson will be in court on Thursday.