EDGEWATER — The mother of a 22-year-old Loyola University graduate who was forced by the neck from a bus stop and sexually assaulted described the last week as a "nightmare," but said she strongly believes the suspect will be captured.
The victim's mother, Renee, said the May 2 incident has led her daughter to move out of the young woman's Rogers Park apartment to the family's southwest suburban home.
Renee asked that her last name not be used but said she is speaking out to urge people to come forward with information about the man suspected in the crime. He is described by police as a 5-foot-8, 300-pound black man with short black hair.
"I'm a mother of a raped child," she said in an interview with DNAinfo.com Chicago. "And I'm going to do whatever I can."
That includes agreeing to pose for a photo, which she hopes will show that her daughter was not just an anonymous victim from an unidentified family. She's frustrated with both the detectives working the case and with people who doubt the attack could have happened in broad daylight, near one of the busiest intersections in the neighborhood.
"I hope people put their judgments aside and they do the right thing — no matter what happened, no matter how she reacted or handled the situation. She was kidnapped and she was raped and robbed," the mother said. "If you know who this person is, you need to do the right thing and turn him in."
Renee, a respiratory therapist at a Chicago hospital, said her daughter told her she was sitting at the bus stop in front of the Deluxe Diner at 2 p.m. Thursday in the 6300 block of North Clark Street, waiting to take the bus to work, when a man sat next to her and put his hand on the nape of her neck.
She slapped him away.
Then he clasped more firmly and said, "'No, you're going to do everything I say or I'm going to kill you.'"
From there, he forced the woman to walk south on Clark Street, past a corner cellphone store, Renee said. Before they turned into the alley in the 1500 block of West Highland Avenue, her daughter had tried to secretly call police from her cellphone.
The call actually went through to 911, according to phone records, Renee said, but the man noticed and took the phone from her.
"As you and I know, it could look like a couple walking down the street," the mother said. "He took her telephone, he took her credit cards, he took her cash — thank God he left her bus pass."
At the time of the attack, the suspect was wearing a white striped polo shirt and blue jeans. A sketch of the attacker was released by police Tuesday morning, while a surveillance video from the cellphone store captured a man and a woman walking by, his hand on the back of her neck.
After the assault, her daughter put on her clothes and boarded a bus, Renee said. She went home. A friend later Thursday went with the victim to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, where a Chicago Police detective came to take a report.
Renee was at work when her daughter called her to tell her what had happened.
"She's very, very quiet — very, very private," Renee said. "She went through with everything at the hospital and the police station."
But since the incident, the mother said her daughter had grown frustrated with both the police and some of the community response.
"These are the kinds of things people think," she said. "If you knew my daughter, you would know that if you told her you were going to kill her, she would do what you said. She's not a fighter. That shouldn't be judged."
Renee said she wants people to put their judgments aside and help search for the suspect.
"Nobody knows what they would do in that situation," the mother added. "No one should be asking what she did. I didn't ask her what she did. All I said to her was that whatever you did, do you did everything right, because you're alive."
The police didn't release a community alert and sketch of the suspect until several days after the incident, which upset Renee.
"I don't know this process," she said. "I've never had to deal with the law before in any way shape or form."
But she said detectives hadn't returned her phone calls, and a sketch artist didn't meet with her daughter until Sunday evening, three days after the attack.
"I know time is of the essence," she said. "This is somebody's life you're talking about. Why wasn't the sketch done when it was fresh in her mind?"
Police Department spokesman Adam Collins didn't address Renee's concerns directly, but said in a statement that the department "takes every investigation seriously, and our detectives work tirelessly to bring justice to criminals and closure to victims and their families."
Renee worried that if her daughter were on her own, the case would be forgotten.
"She's not outspoken in any situation," she said. "If God forbid they said, 'The case was closed, there's nothing else we could do,' she'd probably say, 'OK, thank you very much.' That's just how she is. She just wants to go to work and forget it ever happened. I don't blame her."
Her mother also alerted Loyola University's police on Saturday. Her daughter graduated last year.
"The Loyola officer was frustrated as well. He didn't get any alert" from Chicago police, she said.
In the last few days, Renee and her daughter have been looking for a new place for the 22-year-old to live, and going to medical appointments. Her daughter also is reviewing photos of convicted criminals to aid police.
"What I know will happen is that we will find him, and he will be convicted," she said. "And I know that my daughter will help others to go through something like this."
Police are asking anyone with information about the assault to call detectives at 312-744-8261.