CHICAGO (CBS / AP) — Two men and two women have been charged with a hate crime, after allegedly kidnapping an 18-year-old mentally challenged man, torturing him for up to two days, and posting videos of the torture online.
CBS Chicago reports Jordan Hill, 18; Tesfaye Cooper, 18; Brittany Covington, 18; and Tanisha Covington, 24, have been charged by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery, along with the hate crime enhancement. Hill also was charged with robbery and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. Hill, Cooper, and Brittany Covington also were charged with residential burglary.
Hill is from Carpentersville, a Chicago suburb. The other three suspects are from Chicago. All four were scheduled to appear for bond hearings Friday afternoon.
Police have said the 18-year-old victimized in the videos is a northwest suburban resident with special needs who had been reported missing. The four suspects are black. The victim is white.
Excerpts of the first video posted by Chicago media outlets show the victim with his mouth taped shut slumped in a corner as at least two assailants cut off his sweatshirt with a knife, as others taunt him off camera. The video shows a wound on the top of the man’s head, and one person pushing the man’s head with his or her foot. A red band also appears to be around the victim’s hands.
Off-camera, people can be heard using profanities about “white people” and Trump. At least one woman is shown in the video.
A second video, which surfaced on Twitter, showed the suspects grabbing the teen’s head, shoving it into a toilet, and forcing him to drink.
The victim is a suburban Chicago resident who Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said has “mental health challenges.” In a news conference Wednesday, Johnson described the video as “sickening.”
“It makes you wonder what would make individuals treat somebody like that,” he said.
The investigation began Monday after officers found a man who “was in distress and was in crisis” walking on a street on the city’s West Side, Capt. Steven Sasso said. The man was taken to a hospital and it was later discovered that he had been reported missing from an unidentified suburb.
At about the same time, police took several people into custody at a nearby address where they found signs of a struggle and property damage. Investigators determined that the missing man had been at the same address.
When asked Wednesday about the racial comments on the video, Cmdr. Kevin Duffin said the four people in custody were “young adults and they make stupid decisions.” Investigators will have to determine whether the racial remarks were “sincere or just stupid ranting and raving” when considering a potential hate crime charge, Duffin said.
The victim was with his attackers for 24 to 48 hours before police found him, and the episode has left him shaken, according to Duffin.
“He’s traumatized by the incident and it’s very tough to communicate with him at this point,” he said.
The victim was a classmate of one of the attackers and initially went with that person voluntarily, Duffin said.
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