Eliza Wasni, 16, has been arrested and accused of the murder of a “gentle and kind” Uber driver named Grant Nelson just after Memorial Day.
CBS Chicago reports that Wasni was arrested on May 30 and will appear in court on May 31 in Skokie, Illinois. On the night of May 29, Grant Nelson’s family say he had finished dinner and went out to make some money as an Uber driver. In the early hours of May 30, Nelson was found stabbed inside his car in north suburban Lincolnwood. He was rushed to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, Illinois, where he was pronounced dead. Nelson, of Wilmette, was 34 years old.
UPDATE: A GoFundMe has been set up to help Nelson’s family. To donate, click here.
Here’s everything you need to know about Wasni.
Wasni Was Found With Two Weapons
The Lincolnwood Police Department said in a press release that Nelson identified Wasni, his passenger, as his assailant. He said he had been stabbed by his passenger, a white, female juvenile. Police then arrested Wasni close to where Nelson was found. She was in possession of two weapons believed to be used to kill Nelson. Officers were dispatched to the area after a resident reported hearing a man screaming for help.
Nelson had been driving his gray 2015 Hyundai Sonata sedan when he was killed. NBC Chicago reports that there is “grainy” surveillance video that showed the Nelson’s car and someone walking out of it at Hampton Place Condominiums around the time of the attack.
CBS Chicago reports that Nelson’s father described the killing as random.
Wasni did not make a statement, police said.
Wasni Says on Her Facebook Page, ‘I Will Always Be Myself’
Wasni says on her Facebook page, “I will always be myself.” While her last visible update (above) read, “Ok ok that jus changed everything.” That post was written on February 13.
Wasni also has a profile at Kids Casting, a social media website for aspiring actors. Wasni’s Instagram page has been taken down while her Twitter page does not offer much information other than her location in Chicago.
Illinois No Longer Has a Death Penalty
Wasni will be charged with first degree murder as an adult, according to the Cook County State’s attorney’s office. Illinois abandoned the death penalty in 2011, meaning the maximum penalty in a first degree murder case is life in prison.
First Homicide in Lincolnwood Since 2006
The town of Lincolnwood has not seen a murder since the 2006 murder of Lester McDurmon, according to the Police Department’s release. In that case, Lester’s brother, James McDurmon was sentenced to 60 years in prison for the crime that resulted from a domestic dispute.
Nelson Was Known As a Kind-Hearted Animal Lover
Alex Nelson, Grant’s sister, talked with NBC Chicago about her brother saying that he was especially in love with her family’s dog, Lilly. She added, “He had probably the most extensive collection of classical music of anyone I’ve ever met in life… I want people to know Grant was a good person. He was not a vindictive person. He was not a cruel person. He didn’t deserve this fate.”
Grant’s friend Mike Foley told ABC Chicago, “It’s overwhelming, really. It’s very sad. Heartbreaking.”
Foley was one of many who worked with Nelson in the restaurant industry, and he often drove for rideshare companies, including Uber and Lyft, after his shifts as a waiter. He also said Nelson sometimes spoke about the dangers of late-night driving.
“I remember him mentioning that he once had to stop and get gas in a really sketchy neighborhood. He might not have really thought anything of it,” Foley said.
Colleen Milner, another friend, said, “Grant’s the type of person that would walk away from an altercation. He would never stay around. He would let something go and walk away.”
“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.