The aunt of a special needs teenager who was tortured for hours by four friends has told DailyMail.com that he was unable to speak about the attack – other than to repeatedly ask why a friend he idolized had done this to him.
Janet Grant said her 18-year-old nephew, would be mentally scarred by the six-hour ordeal where he was bound, beaten, cut, burned and forced to drink from a toilet.
Brittany Covington, 18; her sister Tanisha Covington, 24; Tesfaye Cooper, 18; and Jordan Hill, 18, have been charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery and a hate crime. Hill attended school with [the victim] for several years.
Speaking on Friday morning Grant said: ‘[The victim] just keeps saying, ‘Why, why? Jordan was my friend. He’s been my friend for a couple of years.’
She continued: ‘They went to school together, they both had problems. He adores Jordan. I don’t know Jordan but [the victim] really liked him. It’s one thing if they didn’t know each other but [the victim] idolized him.’
Grant, who is the sister of the victim’s father said the family were ‘terrible’ since the teenager’s ordeal.
‘He’s got enough problems already. They put cigarette butts out on his head, cut a hole in his scalp. Once they took him to Chicago, he had no meds for four days. He couldn’t even fight back.
‘Physically he’ll heal but mentally…he’ll always be looking over his shoulder. Probably won’t trust anybody. ‘
Grant said that she was unsure if any family members would attend the first court appearance of the four accused on Friday afternoon in Chicago.
‘I don’t even know if my brother’s going – everyone is having a hard time dealing with it,’ she said.
The family does not know the connection Hill had to the other three accused. His aunt said the only thing she would ask them is ‘why – just why?’
His cousin, Kyle Pudowski, 21, told DailyMail.com: ‘I don’t know what made people do that. It’s crazy.’
Mrs Grant added: ‘Or even watch people do that. How could a woman watch that? They thought it was going to make them popular – putting cigarette butts out on a kid with schizophrenia and ADD.’
Kyle Pudowski said he hoped that the perpetrators would receive lengthy prison sentences for that they had done.
The aunt added: ‘It’s not even about the punishment – just why?
Grant said the family had been deeply touched by the outpouring of support from the local community and beyond. A GoFundMe account set up with a goal of raising $10,000 has gone well past $40,000.
‘It’s wonderful,’ she said. ‘It’s sad it takes something like this.’
Grant said that she had spent a lot of time with the victim and that she and her brother babysat each other’s children when they were growing up.
She said: ‘[He's] a good boy. He would give you the shirt off his back.
‘His mom didn’t like him hanging out but [he] would say, “that’s my friend, that’s my friend.” He looked up to Jordan.
‘[He] thought he was cool. I think he was one of the popular ones at school.’
The family made a brief statement to local TV stations on Monday night.
David Boyd, the victim’s brother-in-law, said: ‘He’s doing well as well as he could be at this time. We are so grateful for all the prayers and efforts that led to the safe return of our brother.
‘This should never happen.’
Grant said that the victim’s father was too devastated to speak at the brief news conference.
Streamwood Police Department said in a statement that his parents reported him missing on January 2.
They had last heard from him on New Year’s Eve after dropping him off at a McDonald’s restaurant in Streamwood, close to their home.
As police investigated the disappearance, the parents received text messages from the captors.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the accused made financial demands in the texts.
Police then found a disturbing Facebook live-stream video showing the victim being tortured, beaten and verbally abused. The victim also had his clothes cut and had cigarette ash flicked over the wound on his head.
According to police, the 18-year-old was bound, punched and kicked. At one point, a piece of his scalp was cut off and he was forced to drink toilet water. One of the four accused can be heard screaming, ‘f*** Donald Trump, f*** white people’ at the victim.
The video lasts for 30 minutes but investigators believe that the vulnerable victim’s ordeal went on for six hours.
It was initially posted by 18-year-old Brittany Covington but has since been deleted.
Alongside her sister, Tanisha Covington, 24, Tesfaye Cooper, 18, and Jordan Hill, 18, the group were charged on Thursday with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery and a hate crime.
Hill was also charged with robbery and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. He, Cooper and Brittany Covington face additional charges of residential burglary, according to Cook County State Attorney’s Office.
The four accused will appear in court on Friday at 1pm for a bond hearing.
The four friends arrested in the incident have expressed no remorse for their alleged part in the torture, police said.
Chicago authorities revealed more about the disturbing incident at a Thursday afternoon press conference.
The victim and Hill knew each other from attending school in Aurora, Illinois.
The victim’s parents dropped him off at a McDonald’s on Saturday so that he could spend the night at Hill’s home. ‘[He] told [his mother] that he was meeting a friend there but never said who,’ according to a missing person’s report.
‘[His mother] believes that the friend [the victim] was meeting is Jordan.’
The parents became worried on Monday after only having sporadic text messages from their son and then his phone being turned off.
Police considered the teenager ‘a missing endangered person due to his mental health history and not currently taking his medication.’
His mother thought he may be with another friend, Derek, in the area but she didn’t know his last name or if it is his real name because he did ‘not like telling his parents who he is with,’ the police report stated.
On Saturday night, Hill had allegedly picked the victim up in a stolen van. For the first two days, the two visited friends and the victim reportedly slept in the van at nights.
On Tuesday, the pair visited the West Chicago residence of the Covington sisters where Cooper was also present.
A few hours after they arrived at the house, Hill and the victim got into a play fight that then escalated to a prolonged torture.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson called the act ‘reprehensible’ on Thursday.
Police said the young man made so much noise as he was being tortured that the downstairs neighbors eventually called police to report the noise.
The group became angered with the downstairs neighbors, and three of them went downstairs to kick the neighbor’s door in. It was at this moment that the victim was able to make a break for it.
Outside of the residence, a police officer found the victim ‘bloodied and bruised’, wearing a tank top and shorts in the dead of winter.
The victim was treated in hospital and has been returned to his parents.
‘The actions in that video are reprehensible. That along with racism have absolutely no place in the city of Chicago or anywhere else for that matter, against anyone regardless of their race, gender, state of mental health or any other identifying factor,’ Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said.
The victim also had his clothes cut and had cigarette ash flicked over the wound on his head.
Two more clips of the alleged abuse surfaced overnight as well, one of which shows the group forcing the man to drink water out of a toilet.