A 16-year-old girl was charged today as an adult with first-degree murder and accused of stabbing her Uber driver to death in suburban Chicago.
Eliza Wasni allegedly stole a knife and machete from a Walmart in Skokie, asked for a ride using the Uber app and within minutes started attacking her driver, the Daily Mail reports.
The driver, Grant Nelson, managed to stop his car and run into a condominium building lobby where he sought help but later died of his wounds.
Wasni allegedly drove off in Nelson's car, struck a median and then ran off. She was apprehended moments later after removing a bloody shirt.
Lincolnwood police said they responded to a report of a man screaming for help at about 3.20am Tuesday when they found Nelson, 34, of Wilmette with multiple stab wounds.
Nelson told them he was a driver for the ride-sharing service Uber and that his passenger stabbed him, police said. He was dropping off the girl when the attack occurred, police said.
Officers located Wasni - who lives with her single mother - behind a building near the crime scene in possession of two weapons they believe she used in the stabbing, Lincolnwood police said. They said she declined to make a statement.
Uber states that customers must be 18 years or older to use the service. It's unclear how that is enforced. It's also unclear what prompted the attack.
Nelson died at a nearby hospital a few hours later. Chicago-area TV stations reported that Nelson's blood-splattered silver sedan remained in the intersection as police investigated his killing.
Grainy surveillance footage shows a car driving up to the apartment complex and dropping someone off. The car then exits the parking lot back out onto the main road where Nelson was attacked.
Wasni was ordered held without bond at her first hearing Wednesday afternoon in Skokie court.
Uber officials said the company was working with police to provide information relevant to the investigation.
"We are heartbroken by the loss of one of our partners,' Uber said in a statement. 'Our deepest sympathies and prayers are with his family and loved ones during this incredibly difficult time."
Nelson lived with his parents and worked as a waiter, while driving for Uber and Lyft after his shifts.
He had reportedly finished Memorial Day dinner with his family on Monday when he decided to go out and earn some extra cash by driving.
Nelson's sister, Alex Nelson, told WMAQ-TV in Chicago that her brother was a good person.
"He was not a vindictive person," Alex Nelson said. "He was not a cruel person. He didn't deserve this fate."
Alex said that her brother was a pianist who loved classical music, films and the family dog Lilly.
"You know, I think Grant was the kind of man who never knew his true life's calling," she told CBS Chicago. "Unfortunately, now he never will get to find that."
"If he had been given the chance to live, he would have continued to fill the world with good thoughts, good music, and intelligent conversation. We will all miss that without him here," she added.
Mike Foley, a friend who worked with Nelson in the restaurant industry, said he would sometimes speak about the dangers of ride-sharing.
"I remember him mentioning that he once had to stop and get gas in a really sketchy neighbourhood. He might not have really thought anything of it," Foley told ABC 7.
Colleen Milner, another former coworker, said that Nelson was the last person who would be in a deadly confrontation.
"It's pretty heartbreaking to hear that. That guy is super nice. One of the nicest guys you'll know. Quiet, shy, but he wouldn't do anything to anybody," Milner said.
A service has been planned for Friday at Chicago's Jewish Funerals in Skokie. The family has asked that donations be made to the National Alliance on Mental Illness's Cook County North Suburban chapter and the nNti-Cruelty Society.
It is the first homicide in Lincolnwood since 2006, police said.