A 15-year-old honors student was on her way to school early to work on a class project when she was brutally raped and beaten last month on Chicago's Northwest Side, Cook County prosecutors said today as the suspect was ordered held on $2.5 million bail.
Luis Pantoja, 25, of the 5500 block of West Wrightwood Avenue, lived about a block and a half away from where the assault took place at about 5:20 a.m. Dec. 17 in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood, prosecutors said.
The victim was walking to a bus stop at Fullerton and Long avenues, not far from her home, when she was struck on the head with a blunt object and dragged through a gangway to the backyard of a home in the 2400 block of North Long Avenue, prosecutors said.
Pantoja then raped her and left her lying face down in a pool of her own blood, Assistant State's Attorney Jennifer Gonzalez said.
The girl suffered multiple skull fractures and "significant" brain bleeding that led doctors to place her in a drug-induced coma, according to Gonzalez, chief of the sex crimes division for the state's attorney's office. She has since had several brain surgeries and is now relearning how to feed herself and walk, Gonzalez said.
The homeowner discovered the victim at 8:05 a.m. and called police, who found her lethargic and appearing to suffer from hypothermia, Gonzalez said. She was able to tell officers that she "was on the way to school," according to the prosecutor.
The girl remains hospitalized.
DNA found on a condom wrapper near the scene matched Pantoja and authorities found the same brand in his bedroom when they executed a search warrant, officials said.
He was also wearing boots of the same size, tread pattern and design as those that left prints at the crime scene, Gonzalez said. Surveillance video and an eyewitness who saw Pantoja place him on nearby Linder Avenue at the time of the rape, Gonzalez said.
Judge Donald Panarese, Jr. set bail for Pantoja at $2.5 million. Pantoja is deaf and a sign-language-interpreter translated for him during the hearing.
Family members waved and appeared to cry as he was led away. They declined comment after the hearing.