19-year-old UIC student dies of strangulation, autopsy finds; person of interest in custody

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A 19-year-old University of Illinois-Chicago student whose body was found in a campus parking garage Saturday died of strangulation, an autopsy has revealed.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office on Sunday determined the death of undergraduate student Ruth George to be a homicide.

UIC Police Chief Kevin Booker said Sunday that a person of interest is in custody, but officials have yet to identify the person.

UIC police found George unresponsive inside a vehicle in a parking garage in the University Village neighborhood Saturday morning.

Police said that the person in custody has no affiliation with the school.

RELATED: Female student reported missing found dead in vehicle at UIC parking garage

George's family first reported her missing Saturday morning, after they hadn't heard from her since Friday evening.

Investigators then used cell phone data to track or "ping" her phone's location to UIC's Halsted Street Parking Garage off Taylor Street.

Shortly after, UIC police found George in the back seat of a family-owned vehicle.

Now investigators are suggesting that George was a victim of foul play after learning that the young woman entered the parking garage alone on Saturday, just after 1:30 a.m. Police said a person of interest entered the garage shortly after her.

UIC police wouldn't disclose whether they found any obvious signs of trauma.

According to an email sent to students by UIC's chancellor, the 19-year-old was an honors student and a kinesiology major with dreams to become a health professional.

"The traumatic loss of life of one of our community members is very difficult to comprehend and surely invokes a range of emotions for all of us," Chancellor Michael Amiridis said. "The safety and well-being of everyone at UIC is our foremost concern. I encourage you to continue to take advantage of the prevention tools and resources available on campus and to remain vigilant while you are both on and off campus."

Some UIC students said they're on edge after the news.

"It really hurts because it could have been anybody. Could have been any the students, could have been my friends, could have been me," said student Danielle Perkins. "And that's the scariest part."

Perkins said students that knew George said she was dedicated to her education and was a kind person to all.

"It's just really upsetting that she had such a good life ahead of her and it seemed like she had a good head on her shoulders," she said.

George was also a Naperville Central High School graduate.

Her former gymnastics team coach said in a statement to ABC7 that Ruth George was a "sweet girl" with the "brightest smile" who will be dearly missed.

George's family declined to comment.
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