Bound, gagged with a sock, stabbed in the arm and bleeding from the scalp, the victim could be heard on Facebook Live screaming “no” in fear, prosecutors say, as a man off screen threatens more violence.
Nightmarish details were released Friday by prosecutors laying out their case before a judge denied bail for the two men and two women charged with the ghastly intersection of social media and barbarism.
Jordan Hill, 18, of Carpentersville; Tesfaye Cooper, 18, of Chicago; and sisters Brittany Covington, 18, and Tanishia Covington, 24, also of Chicago, were charged with hate crimes, kidnapping and battery Thursday after Cook County prosecutors identified them as four black suspects seen in a racially charged attack on a white teenager that was broadcast live on social media.
Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil asked “where was your sense of decency?” as the grandmother of the Covington’s wept and others applauded the denial of bail.
Court records show that one of the alleged torturers at one point demanded a $300 ransom from the 18-year-old victim’s mother over Facebook for his return.
Video of the incident shows the victim being choked with a belt around his neck while he groans in pain, bleeding, his clothes slashed and ripped, and man’s foot on his head. A man can be heard in the recording yelling “I don’t give a f--- if he’s schizophrenic.” Male voices repeatedly make threats to kill the 18-year-old.
The victim, who prosecutors say suffers from schizophrenia and attention deficit disorder and lives with his parents in suburban Streamwood, was dropped off at a McDonald’s to meet a friend. He contacted his mother on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 to spend the night at a friend’s house, prosecutors say, before “communication stopped” on Jan. 2.
The victim’s brother on Jan. 2 used Facebook to determine which friend he was with—Jordan Hill, prosecutors say. The victim knew Hill from an alternative high school the two had attended together, court records show.
The victim’s mother then used Facebook to contact Hill to speak with her son and wanted him returned home, prosecutors said.
According to court records, Hill, the victim and a third unidentified person left the McDonald’s to “buy and smoke cannabis.” Prosecutors allege that Hill stole a van from Streamwood and drove with Hill and a second unidentified person to an unknown location in Chicago. Hill and the unidentified person left the victim in the van for what he said was about two hours. During that time, court records show, the victim’s mother was in contact with Hill wanting to know about her son’s whereabouts—which was angering to Hill.
Hill began beating the victim with his fists in the back of the van and took his cellphone and SIM card, prosecutors allege. The trio then drove to an apartment in the 3300 block of West Lexington Avenue where the alleged torture and Facebook Live broadcasting took place, according to court documents.
In the third-floor apartment, where Hill and the victim were met by Cooper and both Covingtons, Hill began to “harass and slap” the victim, according to court documents. Hill and Cooper then ordered the victim to a corner of the apartment and made him face the wall, prosecutors said.
The victim was then made to say “I love black people,” “F--- Donald Trump,” while kissing the floor, authorities say, before Brittany Covington began livestreaming the brutal and torturous treatment on social media.
Prosecutors noted in court documents that all four of the accused can be seen in the Facebook Live stream in which the victim is seen being forced to drink from a toilet bowl and being punched in the head and continue to espouse vulgarities about President-elect Trump.
The victim could then be seen in the video being bound and gagged, a sock stuffed in his mouth which was then covered by tape, while one of the men accused of the crime can be heard screaming profanities about Trump and “white people.” Hill, prosecutors say, can then be seen cutting a chunk of hair from the victim’s head, causing a lacerating—before stabbing the victim in the forearm and cutting his clothes. The Covington’s are charged with slapping the victim in the face and on his body as he bleeds.
At was at this point, on Jan. 3, prosecutors and police say neighbors on the second floor unwittingly interrupted the alleged torture by requesting their neighbors “keep the noise down,” court records show—which lead to a confrontation.
Cooper and both Covingtons chased the witnesses back down to their second-floor apartment, prosecutors say, after Hill said he would come back with a gun while running out for the front of the building. Cooper then kicked in the door of the neighbor’s unit and entered with both Covingtons in tow, court records allege, prompting the neighbors to run out the back door and into the first-floor apartment where they called 911. The neighbors told prosecutors they could hear the defendants running around in the apartment above them while they waited for police.
The neighbors then saw the victim, who had escaped from the third-floor apartment, outside wearing sandals with visible injuries before police arrived on the scene.
Tanishia Covington was arrested in 2007 on attempted armed robbery and aggravated battery charges. Police records do not show any convictions as a juvenile. As an adult, she was arrested on charges of battery and aggravated assault, but those charges were dropped.
The grandmother of Brittany Covington said the granddaughter she raised from infancy is "not this person."
"I'm so upset, my head is about to bust open," said Priscilla Covington of Chicago. "I don't know if someone influenced her. ... She had her ups and down. (She) was a good person. I'm so confused."
She sobbed openly in bond court Friday after the judge denied bail and shook her head as each charge was detailed.