Cook County assistant state’s attorney Maria McCarthy speaks about the details of Tiffany Thrasher’s murder and what led to the arrest of Bulmaro Mejia-Maya at the Rolling Meadows branch of Cook County Circuit Court on Thursday, April 27, 2017.
The suspect in the murder of a Schaumburg woman admitted to authorities that he held his hand over her mouth while he raped her but said he did not remember strangling her, prosecutors said Thursday.
Following his arrest in Florida last week, Bulmaro Mejia-Maya was ordered held without bond in the alleged Easter Sunday rape and murder of his neighbor, Tiffany Thrasher, 33.
In what Cook County Associate Judge Joseph Cataldo called "a single woman’s worst nightmare," Mejia-Maya is accused of entering Thrasher’s apartment through an unlocked window and confronting her in her bathroom. When Thrasher refused to have sex with him, a violent struggle ensued in which he struck her with a bottle, then pushed her onto her bed and sexually assaulted her while she fought back, prosecutors said.
The attack left gouge marks on Thrasher’s face, wounds on her hands, and lacerations and bruising on her genitals, authorities said. A prosecutor’s description of the crime scene included blood on the bedsheets and the wall, a broken bed frame and a mattress partially on the floor.
After the attack, Mejia-Maya left through the window and returned to his apartment in the same complex, where he told some of his roommates that he had hurt Thrasher, according to prosecutors.
They said that while being questioned in Florida following his arrest, the defendant admitted to sexually assaulting Thrasher but said he was drunk at the time and didn’t recall strangling her.
However, before he left her apartment, Mejia-Maya checked her chest and saw she was not moving, authorities said the defendant told them.
Mejia-Maya has a criminal record that includes two aggravated battery arrests in Florida, both involving allegations that he stabbed someone, according to Cook County prosecutors. In one of the those cases, he was accused of grabbing a woman and trying to shove her into a dark area, though that charge was dropped after authorities were unable to relocate the alleged victim, officials said. In the other case, charges were reduced to simple battery and he served jail time, authorities said.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has placed a hold on Mejia-Maya, meaning he could face deportation after the case is resolved. The defendant, who used a Spanish translator in court, could also face life in prison if convicted on the new charges of first-degree murder, home invasion and aggravated criminal sexual assault.
In court Thursday, Assistant State’s Attorney Maria McCarthy said that shortly before the alleged attack, Mejia-Maya had offered to help Thrasher with her groceries but she declined.
Mejia-Maya lived in his apartment with five roommates who all worked for the same drywall company. After the alleged attack, he texted the owner of the company and said he had a problem and needed to be transferred out of state, McCarthy said. Later, he texted again saying he was going to Mexico, she said.
The judge cited flight risk and the violence of the alleged crime in ordering that Mejia-Maya be held without bond.
George Houde is a freelance reporter.