Harwood Heights woman dies after carjacking attack with zip-tie

Chicago Tribune/TNS

A woman who had her neck zip-tied and her car stolen in Harwood Heights on Wednesday has died, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Ma Operio, 61, was taken to Lutheran General Hospital in critical condition and placed on life support following the carjacking, Harwood Heights police said. She died Sunday night.

Harwood Heights police found Operio lying on her back, her face turning blue, with blood under her head, around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday in the 4400 block of Natchez Avenue, according to Cook County prosecutors and medical examiner records.

One of Operio’s neighbors saw a man struggling with the victim, appearing to choke her, police said.

Police officers in south suburban Crete arrested Reese Miller, 24, later Wednesday morning. Miller admitted to attacking the woman and moving her out of the way before driving away in her Toyota, officials said. Miller, who is from Urbana, wrote a note apologizing for the incident. Law enforcement found the note in the vehicle, which prosecutors read during a bail hearing Friday.

“I’m deeply sorry for hurting anyone at the moment, it seemed to be the only choice,” prosecutors allege Miller wrote. “I didn’t want to hurt people. It was never something I ever thought possible until the realization of reality hit me.”

Miller was charged with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated vehicular hijacking, although his charges could be upgraded following Operio’s death, Harwood Heights police said.

Judge Ellen Beth Mandeltort ordered Miller be held without bond. His next court date is Sept. 22.

A GoFundMe was started to help raise funds for the woman. Out of a $20,000 goal, over $2,200 was raised as of Tuesday morning.

This is a developing story.