CHICAGO (Reuters) - A felon out on parole in Chicago beat an elderly woman to death last month, stole her engagement and wedding rings and then used them to propose to his girlfriend, prosecutors said on Thursday.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said Raymond Harris, 36, showed off Virginia Perillo’s engagement and wedding rings at a party just hours after an attack that left her unconscious and bleeding in her southside garage.
Perillo, 73, was rushed to a hospital and declared brain dead. She died two days later.
According to prosecutors, Harris asked friends at the party which of the two rings he should present when he asked his girlfriend to marry him. They said he wound up giving her both when he proposed a week later.
Investigators identified Harris, who was paroled in May after serving 13 years of a 30-year sentence for attempted murder and aggravated arson, as a suspect in Perillo’s slaying after they found a bloody watch in her car.
Tests showed a match with Harris’ DNA, which was in a law enforcement database.
His fiance subsequently turned the rings over to police.
Harris was charged with murder and armed robbery in Perillo’s death. He is being held without bail.
In 1997, just weeks after he was released from jail on an armed robbery conviction, Harris invaded the home of a woman, beating and raping her repeatedly over several hours, prosecutors said.
Harris then slit the victim’s throat, knocked her unconscious and set her house on fire. The woman woke up with her legs in flames and suffered third-degree burns but survived.
Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Cynthia Johnston