‘Should Never Have Happened': Family of Victim in Facebook Live Attack Speaks Out

A traumatized teenager was found walking on Chicago's West Side, and led officers to where he was attacked

The family of a suburban Chicago teenager with special needs who was bound, gagged and beaten in an attack that was broadcast on social media said the attack "should never have happened." 

"We’re so grateful for all the prayers and efforts that led to the safe return of our brother," said the victim's brother-in-law David Boyd, speaking on behalf of the family. "We’re fully aware of the charges being brought against the offenders. At this time we ask for continued prayers for all those involved and for our family’s privacy as we cope and heal."

Boyd said the family has seen the video of the Crystal Lake teen's brutal beating, but said they are simply "happy he's home."

"He's doing well, as well as he could be," Boyd said.  

The victim, who is not being identified, is an 18-year-old with "mental health challenges," police said. A GoFundMe page aimed at raising money for the teen and his family had more than $34,700 in donations by Friday morning. A spokesperson for GoFundMe confirmed the funds would be donated to the family. 

Hate crime and kidnapping charges were filed Thursday against four people Chicago police say were behind the attack. 

Thirty minutes of the torturous incident were streamed live on Facebook, but authorities said it was a six-hour ordeal that evolved out of a play fight, with the victim beaten, kicked, cut and forced to drink from a toilet.

The suspects are black and the victim is white, and one of the suspects suspects allegedly yelled profanities about white people and President-elect Donald Trump during the live video. Police had earlier said they do not "have anything concrete" to suggest the attack was politically motivated, however.

"The actions in that video are reprehensible. That along with racism have absolutely no place in the city of Chicago or anywhere else for that matter against anyone regardless of their race, gender, state of mental health or any other identifying factor," Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said at a news conference Thursday. 

Jordan Hill, 18, of Carpentersville; Tesfaye Cooper, 18, of Chicago; Brittany Covington, 18, of Chicago and Tanishia Covington, 24, of Chicago, were each charged with aggravated kidnapping, hate crime, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Hill, Cooper and Brittany Covington also face charges of residential burglary. Hill was also charged with robbery and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. 

They are expected to appear in court Friday afternoon; it is not clear if they have attorneys. 

“It’s just sickening, sickening,” Johnson said Wednesday in reaction to the video. "It makes you wonder what would make individuals treat somebody like that."

From left to right: Tanishia Covington, Brittany Covington, Jordan Hill, Tesfaye Cooper

Authorities believe the teenager knew Hill from school and went with him willingly on New Year's Eve after meeting at a suburban McDonald's. They allege Hill stole a van and picked the victim up from the Streamwood restaurant, ultimately bringing him to the city, 50 miles from his home, police said.

The victim's parents knew the teen would be spending the night with a friend, but reported him missing the next day, police said. 

It wasn't until Tuesday police said the attack happened and the teen was able to escape before police found him in the 3400 block of West Lexington "bloodied," "battered," and "discombobulated."

He then led the police back to the nearby home where he was tortured.

"I just can't believe anybody would do that to someone, especially a special needs child," the victim's grandmother told NBC. 

Streamwood authorities also say the suspects had been sending the victim’s parents text messages while holding him hostage.

"This is going to affect him for probably the rest of his life," the teen's grandmother said. 

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