No bail for suspect accused of strangling Schaumburg woman
On the last night of her life, Tiffany Thrasher dined with friends. Shortly after 7 p.m. that day -- April 15 -- the churchgoing, dog-loving Chicago Cubs fan stopped at a drugstore on the way to her home in The Lakes of Schaumburg apartment complex. Her last contact with anyone she knew was at 8:24 p.m. via text.
Sometime after that, Thrasher experienced "a single woman's worst nightmare," in the words of Cook County Judge Joseph Cataldo.
Alone at her home on the 2600 block of Clipper Drive, authorities say, the 33-year-old was sexually assaulted and strangled by a construction worker who lived with five other men in an apartment about 50 feet away from her own.
Cataldo ordered Bulmaro Mejia-Maya held without bail Thursday after prosecutors described an ordeal they say began when Mejia-Maya got drunk and saw Thrasher arrive home that evening.
Mejia-Maya was arrested April 19 at his uncle's home in Jacksonville, Florida, and charged with felony murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault and home invasion.
Prosecutors say Mejia-Maya and the five others lived in an apartment rented by a drywall company for its workers. The complex's largest apartments have two bedrooms, according to the Lakes of Schaumburg website.
Thrasher's niece, who roomed with her, said men in the apartment building facing theirs sometimes watched the women and called out to them, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Maria McCarthy said. McCarthy did not indicate if Mejia-Maya was among those men.
On the night Thrasher died, Mejia-Maya, 29, told police he saw her arrive home carrying bags and offered to help but Thrasher declined, McCarthy said. Mejia-Maya told police he returned about an hour later, entered the apartment, encountered Thrasher in the bathroom and told her he wanted to have sex with her, McCarthy said.
After Thrasher threatened to call police, Mejia-Maya stated he punched her, pushed her onto the bed where "a violent struggle ensued" and forced her to have sex with him, McCarthy said.
Mejia-Maya told police he did not remember strangling Thrasher because he was drunk, but he did notice she was not moving, McCarthy said.
His account to police was similar to what he told his roommates after arriving back at his apartment early on April 16, McCarthy said, except he told his roommates Thrasher punched him and he hit her with a bottle, McCarthy said.
Later that morning, Mejia-Maya called the drywall company owner, told him he had a problem and asked to move out of state. He subsequently told the owner he was going to Mexico, McCarthy said.
Schaumburg police found Thrasher about 11:45 a.m. April 16 after parishioners at the Living Hope Church in Elk Grove Village called authorities. They were alarmed when Thrasher failed to show up for services Easter morning.
Authorities believe Mejia-Maya entered Thrasher's first-floor apartment through a window. Police found muddy footprints outside the window and in the living room. A fingerprint on the window's exterior matched one of Mejia-Maya's, McCarthy said.
Thrasher's face had gouges "consistent with a person holding the victim down with their nails pressed into the victim's face," McCarthy said.
Cook County Assistant Public Defender Wendy Schilling said Mejia-Maya has a sixth-grade education. His criminal background, according to prosecutors, includes a 2013 battery conviction in Florida. Mejia-Maya showed up to a party with a knife and stabbed a man in the stomach. He served 117 days in jail.
At the time of his arrest last week, Mejia-Maya had an active warrant out of Utah for misdemeanor drug charges, authorities said.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have placed a detainer on Mejia-Maya, a native of Mexico, who was in the U.S. legally.
If convicted, Mejia-Maya could be sentenced to natural life in prison. He next appears in court on May 18.