A 25-year-old Chicago man has been charged in last month's brutal sexual assault that left a teenager walking to school on the city's Northwest Side fighting for her life.
Police announced Sunday that Luis Alberto Pantoja had been arrested Friday and charged with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated criminal assault, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and aggravated battery resulting in great bodily harm, according to DNAinfo Chicago.
Pantoja, who lives just blocks away from where the attack took place, is due in bond court on Jan. 7, to allow time for a sign language interpreter to be found as the suspect is both deaf and mute, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The 15-year-old victim was found beaten, bloody and half-naked in a backyard in the 2400 block of North Long Avenue in the city's Belmont-Craigin neighborhood on the morning of Dec. 17.
Police said the girl appeared to have been hit in the head sometime after 6 a.m. that day before she was sexually assaulted. Officials believed she had been lying in the cold for some two hours before being found and hospitalized in critical condition.
As of last week, the girl's condition was improving to the point where she was able to communicate with police about the attack, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The attack unnerved the Bemont-Cragin neighborhood as two schools are located within a block of the crime scene. At an emergency meeting convened on Dec. 19, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy promised they'd "catch this monster. We're going to make sure that it doesn't happen again in this community or any other community in the city of Chicago," ABC Chicago previously reported.
Among Pantoja's lengthy rap sheet are charges for a criminal sexual assault using force last August, charges Judge Laura Marie Sullivan dismissed in court, the Tribune reports.