Teen girl accused of hacking Uber driver to death during ride

Posted at 8:52 AM, Jun 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-01 09:51:31-04

LINCOLNWOOD, Ill. (AP) — A 16-year-old girl walked out of a suburban Chicago Walmart holding a machete and knife she'd stolen, climbed into an Uber car and began hacking at the driver, prosecutors said at a hearing on Wednesday. The driver died of his wounds Tuesday after giving police a description of the attacker that led to her arrest.

A prosecutor read in court a description of the attack that said Eliza Wasni simply climbed into a car driven by 34-year-old Grant Nelson, and stabbed him and hacked him to death early Tuesday morning. The judge ordered the girl, who was charged as an adult with first-degree murder, held without bond.

The 2-page description offers no reason for the attack, but portrays Wasni as a calm girl who "nonchalantly" could be seen walking through Walmart, the knives in hand, before she walked outside without paying.

Prosecutors said that Nelson, a resident of Wilmette, picked the girl up shortly after 3 a.m. Tuesday in Lincolnwood. It was her third ride in an Uber vehicle in the early morning hours of Tuesday. Two minutes after he began driving, prosecutors said that Wasni began stabbing Nelson from the back seat. Nelson was able to pull over and ran into a nearby condominium building, where he screamed, "Help me, help me! I'm going to die!" until residents called 911.

Wasni climbed into the front seat of Nelson's blood-splattered silver sedan and drove away, striking a median in the road. She jumped out of the vehicle and fled on foot.

When Lincolnwood police arrived, they found the vehicle with blood on both the inside and the outside, with Nelson's phone open to the Uber app. The app said that Nelson's passenger was someone named Eliza.

Officers followed the trial of blood and found Nelson lying in grass. He was bleeding profusely from several wounds, and was able to tell the officers what had happened. He died at a nearby hospital a few hours later.

Using the description given by Nelson, police found her nearby crouching behind an air conditioner — a machete in one hand and a knife in the other. Police warned her that she would be shot with a Taser if she did not drop the weapons, and when she did not comply an officer used the Taser. Wasni dropped the knives and was taken into custody. Police said she did not make a statement.

According to prosecutors, police recovered a shirt the girl could be seen wearing in the Walmart. The shirt had blood on it.

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'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."

It is the first homicide in Lincolnwood since 2006, police said.