Man strangled his girlfriend, then showered and dressed her before calling for help: prosecutors

CHICAGO — An 18-year-old Chicago man faces murder charges, accused of strangling his girlfriend in his bedroom last weekend. Prosecutors said Micahel Cunningham showered the woman’s body, dressed her, and moved her to the living room before summoning the fire department for medical treatment.

Chiyenne Washington, 17, went to Cunningham’s family home in the 1200 block of South Washtenaw late last Friday, March 15. She went to Cunningham’s bedroom to watch a movie and spend the night. They had been dating for over a year.

The next morning, Cunningham’s door was still closed as other family members got up and went about their day. His mother and his siblings left in the morning, prosecutors said, and his father left early Saturday afternoon.

A short time later, the Chicago Fire Department received a 911 call about an unresponsive female at Cunningham’s home, prosecutor Anne McCord Rodgers said in a detention proffer provided by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

Fire department personnel found Washington dressed and seated in the living room with her head slumped to the side, Rodgers said. Cunningham allegedly told police that she appeared “sluggish” and under the influence of drugs when she arrived the night before.

Micahel Cunningham (Chicago Police Department)

He told the cops he tried to wake her up around 1 a.m., but she didn’t respond, so he threw water in her face and slapped her in the face, the proffer stated. He noticed she was still breathing, so he went back to sleep.

On Saturday morning, he couldn’t wake her up, so he slapped her again and dragged her into the shower, Cunningham allegedly claimed. Because he was scared, he called his brother and asked him to call 911, McCord said.

Investigators noticed “old bruises” on Washington, but she also had more recent trauma to her face, neck, and shoulders, according to the proffer. The Cook County medical examiner determined she was a homicide victim, killed by asphyxiation and assault.

Cunningham later admitted to strangling Washington two different times in his bedroom, prosecutors said. He allegedly told investigators that he showered, dressed, and moved Washington’s body after she became unresponsive.

Rodgers told Judge William Fahy that Cunningham had battered a previous girlfriend in June 2022. She said he choked that victim by putting his hands around her neck. Her proffer did not indicate if he was criminally charged or, if he was, how the case was resolved.

Fahy granted the state’s detention petition.

Washington’s mother told ABC7 that she had advised her daughter to end the relationship with Cunningham.

“I’ve spoke to her about it. I said, ‘I don’t think it’s a good idea. I think you all should end that. It’s toxic. You’re still young. You have your life ahead of you,'” the outlet reported. “I’m sorry that I wasn’t there to protect you, and I couldn’t hold you and tell you, ‘I love you!'”

She said Washington left an infant son behind: “It’s devastating because one day I’m going to have to eventually tell him.”

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