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Man proposes with rings stolen from slain woman: prosecutors

VirginiPerillo wears her wedding rings wedding her son.

Virginia Perillo wears her wedding rings at the wedding of her son.

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Updated: December 13, 2011 8:47AM



A parolee who fatally beat and robbed an elderly nurse in Bridgeport last month used the dead woman’s engagement and wedding rings to propose to his girlfriend, Cook County prosecutors said Thursday.

Raymond Harris, 36, showed the rings off at a party just hours after he attacked Virginia Perillo in her garage in the 3300 block of South Parnell, assistant state’s attorney Melissa Howlett said. In addition to her rings, Harris also took Perillo’s purse, Howlett said.

Perillo, 73, was discovered by a neighbor in a pool of blood with severe head injuries and defense wounds to her forearms on the night of Oct. 22. The brain-dead woman died at Stroger Hospital two days later.

Harris, of Carpentersville, was arrested after investigators were able to match his DNA to a bloody watch that he left inside a car in Perillo’s garage, Howlett said.

Perillo had returned from visiting her ailing husband at an area hospital, family members said. She was found lying face down next to a car that was still running.

Harris went to a party with brand new clothes on the night of the attack and presented the stolen rings to a friend and asked which one he should use to propose, Howlett said. Harris allegedly used both in his proposal five days later. Harris’ fiancee later turned the rings in to detectives and Perillo’s family identified them as hers, Howlett said. Harris was arrested Tuesday.

Perillo, who worked for four decades at Rush University Medical Center, came to the United States from the Philippines in 1971, her eldest son, John, said. The day of her brutal assault, Perillo had spent the day attending church, buying groceries and visiting an area hospital to check on her husband who recently suffered a stroke, John Perillo said.

“That’s just wrong,” John Perillo said of Harris’ alleged proposal with his mother’s rings. “If you wanted to take her rings, fine. But he didn’t have to take it to another level. It’s unthinkable. She was a sweet woman. She wouldn’t hurt a fly. I hope he gets what he deserves.”

Harris was paroled in May after serving 13 years of a 30-year sentence for his 1997 attempted murder and aggravated arson convictions, Howlett said.

In that case, Harris broke into a woman’s home, raped and beat her for several hours, Howlett said. He also threatened that victim at knifepoint, cut her neck and set three separate fires in the woman’s home, Howlett said. The woman woke up with her legs on fire and suffered third-degree burns.

Just three weeks before that attack, Harris had been released from prison for a 1993 armed robbery, vehicular invasion and burglary. In that case, Harris brandished a gun at a woman getting outside of her car outside her home, Howlett said.

Judge Peggy Chiampas noted how it was “particularly disturbing” that Harris kept committing heinous acts following his prison stints and lambasted him for having the “audacity” to use Perillo’s rings in his proposal.

Chiampas ordered Harris held without bail for murder and armed robbery.



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