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Illinois Man Strangled and Smothered Nursing Student After Meeting Her Online: Prosecutors

Booking photo of Richard Chavez.

Richard Chavez.

An Illinois man is the person responsible for strangling and smothering a nursing student found dead in her car, prosecutors said Saturday. Richard Chavez, 24, appeared in court on a charge of murder in the first degree for allegedly killing Charisma Ehresman, 20, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.

Prosecutors cite cell phone evidence as showing that the victim apparently contacted her killer and was at his home. Surveillance footage showed Chavaez abandoning the car where she was later found dead in Chicago, they said.

Ehresman had worked two jobs to enroll in Triton College after taking a year off amid the COVID-19 pandemic, her family said according to WFLD. She had been studying to become a nurse.

“That’s who she is,” her father Jeffery Ehresman told the outlet. “She wants to help people. It’s all she ever wanted to do was help people.”

Her best friend was her mother, who had been confronting health problems. Charisma went out of her way to wake up her mother every morning and make her smile.

“It’s all she cared about,” her father said. “I don’t know how my wife’s gonna survive without her… Her whole world was that girl.”

It was out of character for Charisma to go missing like she did.

According to prosecutors on Saturday, Charisma Ehresman had driven to Chavez’s home on Jan. 23 in the village of Oak Park, Illinois, which neighbors Chicago. Surveillance footage showed them entering the residence. Ehresman was not seen leaving, prosecutors said. She had last called a number registered to Chavez, and her phone pinged at his residence that day, authorities said.

In the end, Chavez drove her car to the 5900 block of West Iowa Street in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago and exited by himself, authorities said. He walked around before calling his brother to pick him up less than a mile away.

Ehresman found dead on Jan. 28, three days after her family reported her missing.

Chavez allegedly told detectives he and she “hooked up” but she was gone when he woke up the following morning. According to prosecutors, however, he call his parents while in police custody and told them on the recorded line to prepare his passport.

Authorities claimed to find a suitcase partially packed in his bedroom as well as the mask he was wearing in surveillance footage after abandoning Ehresman’s car.

[Booking photo via Chicago Police Department]

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