Updated: Evanston man charged in Chicago cold-case murder, ordered held without bail

Patrick Svitek, City Editor

An Evanston man has been charged with first-degree murder after DNA linked him to a fatal attack on an elderly woman more than 25 years ago in Chicago, police said Thursday evening.

Prentice Phillips, 48, was ordered held without bail Friday in connection with a 1988 murder in the Rogers Park neighborhood, according to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. Phillips, a convicted felon, has been jailed on unrelated charges.

In the early morning hours of July 11, 1988, Phillips tried to enter the 81-year-old woman’s basement apartment by knocking on her window and pretending to be a Good Samaritan alerting her to a prowler, according to the state’s attorney’s office. When she did not let him in, he kicked open the door, which hit her in the face.

Phillips then sexually assaulted and robbed the 80-pound woman, stealing money from her purse, the state’s attorney’s office said. He fled from the apartment in the 7200 block of North Sheridan Road.

The woman was taken to St. Francis Hospital, where she provided a description of Phillips to police, according to the state’s attorney’s office. She suffered from multiple injuries, including a fractured rib, and died four days later.

At the time of the attack, police said they found the DNA at the scene. A cold-case grant allowed them to process the evidence this year and question Phillips.

Phillips’ criminal history includes four felony convictions, the state’s attorney’s office said. He is awaiting trial on a charge he tried to sexually assault a disabled woman with multiple sclerosis.

Phillips is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 2.

— Patrick Svitek