Carpentersville teen, 3 others charged in torture of Crystal Lake 18-year-old
The blurry video is hard to watch: The young man whimpers and cries, crouched in a corner with his hands bound and his mouth duct-taped, as a group of people take turns slashing and kicking him while yelling and laughing.
The young man, an 18-year-old from Crystal Lake with a mental illness, had met up in Schaumburg with one of his attackers three days before, on New Year's Eve, to spend the night, presumably celebrating, with the other man.
The two ended up driving around and sleeping in a stolen van while visiting friends on Chicago's West Side over the course of the next two days. On Tuesday morning, they went to an apartment, also on the West Side, where a play fight escalated into horrific, hourslong abuse, 28 minutes of which were streamed live on Facebook.
The young man managed to escape Tuesday afternoon and was found by police bloodied and disoriented, walking in the cold wearing only an inside-out tank top, shorts and sandals.
Two men and two women were charged Thursday with hate crime, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in connection with the beating and torture of the young man.
Authorities named Jordan Hill, 18, of Carpentersville, who also was charged with robbery, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and residential burglary; Brittany Covington and Tesfaye Cooper, both 18 and from Chicago, who also were charged with residential burglary; and Tanishia Covington, 24, of Chicago. The four will appear in bond court at 1:30 p.m. Friday in Chicago.
"The actions in that video are reprehensible," Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said. "That alone, with racism, have absolutely no place in the city of Chicago, or anywhere else for that matter, regardless of their race, gender, state of mental health, or any other identifying factor."
Even the White House weighed in on the matter Thursday, with press secretary Josh Earnest saying the episode demonstrates "a level of depravity that is an outrage to a lot of Americans."
The young man is "doing well, as well as he could be at this time," David Boyd, the victim's brother-in-law, said Thursday afternoon. "We're trying to stick together as a family."
Family members appeared at a brief news conference at the Holiday Inn in Crystal Lake that did not include the victim. Boyd asked for prayers for all those involved and said the family wants privacy.
The family was "overwhelmed and surprised" by the public attention, he said. A GoFundMe fundraising web page set up for the victim had raised more than $27,000 as of 10 p.m. Thursday.
"We're happy that everyone's concerned. This should never have happened," he said, thanking Streamwood and Chicago police for their help.
"We're just happy he's home," said a woman who was among those who met the media. She did not identify herself.
The victim's parents, who live in Crystal Lake, had reported him missing to Streamwood police on Monday afternoon after his mother dropped him off Saturday afternoon to meet up with Hill at a McDonald's restaurant at Schaumburg and Barrington roads near the Schaumburg and Streamwood border, according to police.
Streamwood police tried to contact Hill and friends of the victim but couldn't locate the young man.
The parents later received text messages from people claiming to be holding their son captive, police said. While investigating the messages, Streamwood police found the video depicting the abuse, and shortly after they were notified by Chicago police that the victim had been found.
In the video, the individuals, who are black, can be heard yelling racial statements while abusing the man, who is white.
Chicago police said the victim didn't know Hill stole the van in Streamwood before the two met up Saturday afternoon. The two knew each other from attending the same school in Aurora, they said.
The victim called his mother about 9:30 p.m. Saturday asking to be picked up at a friend's house, without saying where, the police report states. The victim's mother told police she started driving toward the McDonald's in Schaumburg but turned around five minutes later when her son called her back to say his friend's parents said he could spend the night there.
The next morning, on Sunday, his mother was sleeping when she missed a call from her son at 8:50 a.m. She called him back when she woke up at about 10:30 a.m., but her call went straight to voicemail.
That was the last time she heard from her son until Chicago police officers found him Tuesday afternoon, battered and bloodied, walking with Hill on the 3400 block of West Lexington Avenue, officials said.
Hill and the victim had arrived at the West Side apartment, where the Covington sisters live, on Tuesday morning and spent several hours there before the abuse started, Chicago police Cmdr. Kevin Duffin said.
The victim was tied up in a corner for about four or five hours; the four individuals admitted to beating and kicking him, and made him drink toilet water and even cut off a piece of his scalp, Duffin said.
"It's sickening," Johnson said. "It makes you wonder what would make individuals treat somebody like that."
At one point during the abuse, a downstairs neighbor knocked on the sisters' door to tell them she'd call police if the noise didn't stop, police said. When that didn't happen, the neighbor called police about 5:15 p.m. Angered, police said, the sisters kicked in the neighbor's door and took something from her apartment, which led to the residential burglary charges. The victim left during that diversion, police said.
The victim was taken to the hospital for treatment and later was released, police said.
The abusers in the video are heard yelling expletives about President-elect Donald Trump and white people. The sisters can be seen smoking what appear to be marijuana "blunts," police said.
Hill's grandmother, Michelle Ludington of Streamwood, said she was surprised to hear about what her grandson is accused of doing. Hill had lived with Ludington while attending school nearby, and the victim occasionally came over to hang out, Ludington said.
Hill stopped living with her about two months ago, which is when she last talked to him, Ludington said.
Hill had drug problems, his grandmother said. "I tried to get help for him a long time ago."
Priscilla Covington, the sisters' grandmother, said she raised one of them since she was a baby. The young woman "had her ups and downs" but is "a good person," she said.
She says she's worried because her family, including her granddaughter's younger sisters, have been threatened since the video was posted online.
• Daily Herald news services and staff writers Lee Filas, Doug T. Graham, Jake Griffin, Charles Keeshan, Kerry Lester and Mick Zawislak contributed to this story.