Wednesday 6 September 2023

Homeless man allegedly left bizarre note in stolen car after strangling 61-year-old woman with a zip tie

 A 61-year-old Illinois woman died after she was strangled with a zip tie in a brutal and violent carjacking incident on Wednesday morning.

Prosecutors said that Reese Miller, a 24-year-old homeless man who worked at a bakery, attacked Ma Operio outside of her home in Harwood Heights as she was vacuuming her car. 

Miller allegedly placed a zip tie around the victim's neck and then beat her head against the pavement until she died. He then drove away in her stolen car, according to arrest records.

A witness to the attack told police that they saw Operio on the ground near her car with a man in a black hoodie on top of her, choking her. The witness said they saw the man drive off in the woman's blue Toyota.

Police said when they arrived and cut the zip tie from Operio's neck that her face had turned purple.

Miller was arrested in the car, and police said he had scrapes on his hands and knees as well as a spot of blood on his jeans. He was also wearing clothing matching the description from the witness and matching that of a man captured on video near the crime location eight minutes before the assault. 

Operio’s mother, Maria Gimeno, told WGN-TV that her daughter was revived and transported to Lutheran General Hospital, where she was placed on life support. The family chose to take Operio off of life support on Saturday after being told she was brain dead.

Bizarrely, police said they found a note in the stolen car after it was towed away that appeared to refer to the brutal crime.

“I’m deeply sorry for hurting anyone at the moment, it seemed to be the only choice. I didn’t want to hurt people. It was never something I ever thought possible until the realization of reality hit me," the note reportedly read.

Court documents said police also found a knife in the car.

Prosecutors said that Miller allegedly confessed to taking Operio's car after putting the zip tie around her neck.

Miller was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated vehicular hijacking, but prosecutors expect to pursue additional charges.

The family of Operio set up a GoFundMe donation page to help them pay for her funeral costs.

Here's a local news report about the arrest:

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