UPDATE JULY 26:
Four teenage girls in Chicago have been arrested in connection with the violent attack on a 15-year-old with special needs that was captured in a viral video.
The victim's family said the teen is currently in the care of the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services as the investigation continues.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said one of the girls is 13, another is 14, and two of the girls are 15. Three of the girls were charged with aggravated battery while the fourth faces charges of mob action, reported ABC7 Chicago.
All of the girls are being charged as juveniles.
Since video of the attack on the 15-year-old went viral, the teen has been removed from her home. Relatives of the victim say the teen is currently in the care of the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services as the investigation continues.
"I haven't been able to sleep since I saw that brutal attack on my granddaughter," Charlie Mae Harris, the victim's grandmother told ABC7 Chicago. "It was so terrible."
The victim's family hopes she will be relocated to live with a family member who is able to properly care for the teen.
"She's in an excellent school," Raquel Harris, the victim's aunt, told ABC7Chicago. "She needs to continue with her life from this point on, but with family members that can truly protect her."
On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Service released a statement to ABC7 saying: "DCFS is investigating allegations of neglect involving the 15-year-old with special needs that was brutally attacked this week. The tragic incident is heartbreaking. The department is committed to protecting the state's most vulnerable children. We are working closely with law enforcement to fully investigate what happened in this case. DCFS opened the investigation following a hotline call on July 23 and took protective custody of the 15-year-old on July 24. The department has had prior contact with the family."
PREVIOUS JULY 25:
A group of Chicago teens is wanted by the police for assaulting a missing 15-year-old girl with mental disabilities while someone filmed.
On Monday (July 22) night, a video of the disturbing attack was first posted to social media. In the clip, the girl, whose name is being kept anonymous for her protection, is walking down the street with a group when another girl punches her in the back.
As two others begin to punch the girl, she screams and tries to take cover by clinging to an electrical box. Eventually, the victim falls to the ground, where five girls surrounded and beat her as a boy joins and punches her.
At the end of the 42-second video, she’s left hysterically crying on the ground while others laugh at her.
By the time the video went viral on Tuesday, with over six million views, a friend of the 15-year-old and that friend’s mother found the girl riding the CTA Blue Line. This was the same day the victim’s family reported her missing.
During a press conference Wednesday, Chicago Police Officer Jose Jara said the video was recorded during a five-day period wherein the girl was missing.
Jara went on to say it appears the girls who assaulted the 15-year-old initially invited her to go “out” with them before she went missing, although those circumstances remain unclear. Friends of the girl said the people in the video offered to walk her to the CTA Red Line, but it was just a set up so they could jump her.
During the news conference, Jara revealed the 15-year-old victim reported to police that she was sexually assaulted.
“After being found by a concerned citizen and her father, the victim was discovered to be a victim of some sick and disgusting crimes,” Jara added. “It’s very concerning and disgusting that the victim’s so-called friends would eventually be the offenders in these incidents."
Jara said he was unsure why the family waited five days to contact police. He also said it’s unclear when the beating took place, or when the possible sexual assault may have occurred. He said the Chicago Police Department’s Special Victims Unit was involved in the investigation.
Friends and supporters claimed the victim, who is a high school sophomore, was sexually assaulted after she refused to perform a sex act on a man the group all knew in exchange for a free tattoo. According to the girl’s friends, other teen girls in the group allegedly did perform the act, reported ABC7 Chicago.
Community activist Stringer Harris said the teens who attacked the girl were between the ages of 15 and 18, although this information has not been confirmed by police.
Before the girl was located, her friends shared the video of the attack with the hashtag #JusticeforJanise with the hopes it would help police find her or the suspect.
“These girls jumped my friend Janise [last name omitted] who has a mental disability that has been progressing since the passing of her mother,” a friend named Tyla tweeted Monday. “I know this won’t blow up since I’m a small account but please, share and rt! I want justice for my friend, she didn’t deserve any of this.”
Chicago police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi shared Tyla’s video Tuesday and commented, saying an investigation had been launched.
“This is beyond disturbing to watch and this young girl deserves far better,” he wrote.
As of Wednesday afternoon, none of the suspects were in custody.
“Due to the unique circumstances and the sensitive nature of the crimes involved, the interview process and the task of verifying the facts, in this case, will take some time,” he said.
A woman claiming to be the aunt of two of the teens involved told ABC7 her nieces turned themselves in to police and are cooperating with the investigation.
(Photo: ABC7 Chicago)
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