COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — The 77-year-old woman who was attacked during a "brutal" home invasion early Saturday has broken bones, bleeding to her brain and eight or nine loose teeth, prosecutors said Monday.
According to authorities, three men broke into her first-floor apartment about 5 a.m. Saturday.
For the next 45 minutes, the trio stole jewelry, coins and a TV — and brutally beat and kicked the woman any time she made noise or called for help, Assistant State's Attorney Erin Antonietti said during a bond hearing Monday.
Tracie Towbridge, 19, Lilearl Taylor, 19, and Eli Ruff, 18, have been charged with home invasion, burglary and criminal trespass to a vehicle.
But on Monday, Antonietti said the state may upgrade those charges to include attempted murder.
"They brutally attacked a 77-year-old woman," Antonietti said as she petitioned for the men to be held without bail. "Every time she tried to speak up and speak out, they attacked her further."
Cook County Judge Donald Panarese Jr. ordered each man held in lieu of $2 million bail. Several of the alleged attackers' relatives cried as they left the courtroom, but declined to speak with media.
According to prosecutors, the attack started early Saturday when Towbridge, Taylor and Ruff — all of whom live on the South Side — rode the Red Line northbound to Wrigleyville. There, they walked around looking for someone to rob, Antonietti said.
The group settled on a two-flat home in the 3600 block of North Magnolia Avenue, prosecutors said.
The men tried to lift several windows before finding one that wasn't secured, according to Antonietti. Taylor and Ruff hoisted Towbridge into an enclosed porch area, and Towbridge let the other two inside the building, authorities said.
When the trio spotted the 77-year-old victim, who was awoken by the noise, they allegedly knocked her to the ground. Antonietti noted that the woman relies on a cane to get around.
Among other items, the group stole keys to the victim's Honda Accord, prosecutors said. The men allegedly loaded her TV, jewelry, coins and other belongings into the car before heading to the building's second-floor apartment.
Two women, ages 23 and 24, live there, according to Antonietti.
The 24-year-old woman wasn't home that evening, but her roommate heard noises coming from the 24-year-old's bedroom about 5 a.m., prosecutors said. A short while later, someone entered the 23-year-old woman's bedroom. She had been awoken by the strange noises and saw a hand holding a cellphone as a flashlight, Antonietti said.
The woman then heard a series of footsteps running down stairs, according to prosecutors. She tried contacting her roommate and the 77-year-old victim, to no avail, and then called 911.
According to prosecutors, the men stole an iMac desktop computer, a keyboard and several computer cords from the second-floor apartment.
At that point, Towbridge, Ruff and Taylor drove off in the 77-year-old woman's Honda Accord. As they headed south on the Dan Ryan Expy., prosecutors said. Ruff, who was driving, fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a concrete embankment.
All three men grabbed stolen goods and took off running. Police, who had been called to the area to investigate an unrelated shooting, were told to watch out for three men with a backpack, Antonietti said. When the officers spotted Taylor, Towbridge and Ruff, one of them happened to be carrying a backpack.
Police were able to arrest the trio just before 7 a.m. Saturday in the 6700 block of South Perry Avenue, according to court records.
Towbridge had what appeared to be blood on his shoe, Antonietti said. Taylor was carrying three rings, several coins, a screwdriver, white gloves stained with blood, two cell phones and a document that listed the 77-year-old victim's name and address.
Police later found a bloody footprint in the first-floor Lakeview apartment, as well as a hammer that was believed to be used a burglary tool inside the second-floor apartment, Antonietti said. The hammer did not belong to the victims.
Towbridge admitted to the home invasion and attack, and described each man's role, according to prosecutors.
Towbridge, of the 11500 block of South Lafayette Street, is currently on parole for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, prosecutors said. He has a pending felony case in Wisconsin for driving a vehicle without the owner's consent. According to his public defender, Towbridge works odd jobs and has two children.
Taylor, of the 6700 block of South Perry Avenue, has no publishable adult criminal history, prosecutors said. His public defender said Taylor works as a furniture mover, has two children and is a graduate of Harper High School.
Ruff, of the 7300 block of South Damen Avenue, has two pending misdemeanor cases: one for criminal trespass in the 3600 block of North Janssen Avenue, and one for obstructing identification. He was discharged from juvenile parole in August, prosecutors said. He works as a mover and attends Excel Academy, according to his public defender.
Contributing: Evan F. Moore
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