Migrant sexually attacked woman after choking her into unconsciousness on UIC campus, prosecutors say; second woman attacked on NW Side

CHICAGO — A Venezuelan migrant has been detained as a public safety threat after prosecutors said he choked a woman into unconsciousness and then sexually abused her on the University of Illinois Chicago campus this month. Three hours later, prosecutors alleged, he followed another woman from a Northwest Side CTA station and choked her during a robbery attempt.

During a detention hearing for 28-year-old Elvis Hernandez-Pernalet, prosecutors said footage from CTA and UIC surveillance cameras showed him following the victim from the UIC-Halsted Blue Line station around 8 p.m. on March 16. When they reached the 900 block of West Harrison, Hernandez-Pernalet grabbed her from behind and took her to the ground by wrapping his arms around her neck and torso, Assistant State’s Attorney Maya Hinton said.

Video showed Hernandez-Pernalet holding the victim with his legs and choking her into unconsciousness, Hinton stated, according to a transcript of the hearing. After she passed out, he flipped her onto her stomach and climbed onto her back. He stole her jewelry and touched her bare buttocks and private areas with his hands and fingers, Hinton alleged.

“[He] actually admits to the police that he believed he had killed her and [is] seen attempting to move the victim’s body,” said Hinton. Hernandez-Pernalet ran when he realized a witness saw what was happening.

Elvis Hernandez-Pernalet is seen in a March 9 mugshot after being arrested under the name Luis Guevara. (Chicago Police Department)

In an email sent to the UIC community after the attack, the school’s police department said the victim was not associated with the school. It also said UICPD was heading up the investigation.

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However, the witness, believing they recognized the attacker as a migrant living at the Standard Club shelter in the Loop, did some investigating of their own, Hinton said. They went to the shelter with video of the assailant and showed it to a security guard at the facility. Hinton explained that the guard confirmed that the attacker had lived in the shelter since November and was “well-known” to them.

Three hours after the UIC attack, Hernandez-Pernalet followed another woman from the Blue Line at Irving Park, Assistant State’s Attorney Anne McCord stated. As the woman arrived home, Hernandez-Pernalet wrapped his arms around her from behind and forced her to the ground, she said.

A neighbor yelled at Hernandez-Pernalet, who ran from the scene. Prosecutors classified the attack as an attempted robbery, and they expect to add unlawful restraint charges, McCord said.

They also charged him with criminal sexual abuse by force, aggravated battery by strangulation, and robbery in connection with the UIC case. Judge Kelly McCarthy granted the state’s detention petition.

Exactly one week before the attacks, on March 9, Hernandez-Pernalet used the alias Luis Guevara when Chicago police arrested him on shoplifting allegations at TJ Maxx, 11 North State, according to a CPD arrest report. He was released from the police station less than four hours later.

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About Tim Hecke 252 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is tim@cwbchicago.com