Indictments in Facebook torture case expected Friday

  • Clockwise from upper left, Brittany Covington, Tesfaye Cooper and Jordan Hill, all 18, and Tanishia Covington, 24, are accused of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and a hate crime stemming from an attack on a Crystal Lake 18-year-old.

    Clockwise from upper left, Brittany Covington, Tesfaye Cooper and Jordan Hill, all 18, and Tanishia Covington, 24, are accused of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and a hate crime stemming from an attack on a Crystal Lake 18-year-old.

 
 
Updated 1/27/2017 9:18 AM

Cook County prosecutors will likely announce indictments Friday against four people charged with kidnapping and attacking a Crystal Lake teen whose ordeal was streamed live on Facebook.

Brittany Covington, 18, her sister Tanishia Covington, 24, Tesfaye Cooper, 18, and Jordan Hill, 18, face charges of aggravated kidnapping, unlawful restraint, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and a hate crime in the attack on the 18-year-old, who prosecutors say has schizophrenia and attention deficit disorder.

 

Cooper and the Covingtons are also charged with residential burglary. Hill is also charged with robbery and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

The defendants have been held without bail in Cook County jail since their arrest Jan. 3. If convicted of the most serious charges, they face up to 30 years in prison. They are scheduled to appear at 11:30 a.m. Friday at the George N. Leighton Criminal Courts Building in Chicago.

The Crystal Lake 18-year-old met up with Hill -- formerly a student at Aurora's Core Academy and Hoffman Estates' Conant High School -- on the afternoon of New Year's Eve at a Schaumburg McDonald's. Later, the teen called his parents for permission to spend the night at a friend's home.

By Jan. 2, the teen had stopped communicating with his family, and his parents filed a missing-person report with the Streamwood police.

What began as a couple of friends hanging out soon spiraled out of control, according to the account prosecutors offered during the defendants' bond hearings three weeks ago.

Prosecutors say that after the teen met with Hill at the McDonald's, they and another person bought and smoked marijuana. Prosecutors say Hill stole a van in Streamwood and the trio met up with another individual and drove to Chicago, eventually going to an apartment on the 3300 block of West Lexington Street where the Covington sisters lived on the third floor.

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Prosecutors recounted subsequent abuse that included Hill's slapping and taunting the victim.

Prosecutors said Cooper, a former Hoffman Estates High School student, yelled at the teen and forced him to make racially charged, expletive-filled statements toward Donald Trump and white people. The defendants are black; the victim is white.

Prosecutors say video shows all four defendants participating in the abuse, which they say Brittany Covington posted live on Facebook.

Authorities said the abuse included Hill and Cooper punching the teen in the head, forcing him to drink toilet water and gagging him with a sock and duct tape.

Hill is also accused of cutting a chunk of the teen's hair, lacerating his scalp, and stabbing his arm. Prosecutors say the teen can be heard on the video screaming "no" when one of the men threatened him with the knife.

The commotion prompted complaints from neighbors on the second floor, authorities said. That led to a confrontation during which Hill left the building with a threat to get a gun, while Cooper kicked open the door to the second-floor apartment, prosecutors said. During the commotion, the teen escaped and was met by police, who had been called by neighbors.

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