A migrant construction worker with a criminal record was arrested on April 19 for the murder of an Illinois woman who had been sexually assaulted and strangled in her apartment.
The suspect, 29-year-old Bulmaro Mejia-Maya, reportedly fled the state after the death of 33-year-old Tiffany Thrasher and was arrested in Jacksonville, Florida, reports WLS. Mejia-Maya agreed to extradition and will be sent back to Cook County voluntarily. He has been charged with first-degree murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault and home invasion after he allegedly climbed through Thrasher's window and raped and killed her.
Mejia-Maya is a Mexican citizen, though his immigration status in the U.S. is not known; however, U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) filed a detainer following his arrest. The suspect has a criminal record in Florida after pleading guilty in 2013 to battery, and there is a warrant out for his arrest in Utah for failing to appear in court regarding drug charges.
According to the Daily Herald, the Florida misdemeanor came after Mejia-Maya stabbed a man during a 2012 house party. He reportedly changed his story several times during the investigation but at one point claimed self-defense.
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Police said that the Mexican national reportedly lived in the same apartment complex as Thrasher for approximately six months, although his name was not listed on the lease, notes WLS.
He allegedly climbed into her window and killed her on the evening of April 15 after she came home from having dinner with friends.
Officers conducted a wellness check and found Thrasher dead after she failed to show up to sing in her church choir during April 16 Easter Sunday services.
"It's a big loss for us," Pastor Mike Gates of Living Hope Church said, according to WLS. "Tiffany was very much a part of our family here. Very devoted to her faith. Very proactive in our church. She was involved in everything that happened here."
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Schaumburg Police Department Cmdr. Kurt Metzger said that Mejia-Maya "has made incriminating statements" about the case.
"There [were] clear indications that this was an intentional act, and a criminal investigation was immediately started," Metzger said, according to the Daily Herald.
Neighbors said that the suspect would sit on the back of a truck in the evening, drinking with friends and making neighbors nervous, notes WLS
"They'd just sit out there and stare around," apartment resident Joseph Person told WLS. "They were just creepy looking. They would look at my daughter creepy. Finally I wouldn't let her go with me to the garbage can."