According to court documents Eliza Wasni wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone. She would go to a store where she would steal a knife and a machete before calling an Uber driver.
When the Uber driver showed up Eliza would get into the vehicle and soon afterwards would attack the driver Grant Nelson who was stabbed multiple times but was able to get out of the vehicle before dying from his injuries. Eliza would attempt to steal the car but would get stuck and would be arrested
Eliza Wasni would be convicted and sentenced to twenty seven years in prison
Due to behavioral problems in the juvenile system Eliza Wasni would be transferred to the adult system
Eliza Wasni Now
Admission Date: 09/04/2020
Projected Parole Date: 05/12/2044
Last Paroled Date:
Projected Discharge Date: 05/12/2047
Parent Institution: LOGAN CORRECTIONAL CENTER
Offender Status: IN CUSTODY
Eliza Wasni Case
A Chicago teen was sentenced to 27 years in prison after she admitted to murdering a Wilmette man on Memorial Day three years ago.
Eliza Wasni was 16 when she fatally stabbed 34-year-old Grant Nelson in Lincolnwood after she hailed an early morning ride using the Uber app, records show. That ride lasted less than a minute.
Within seconds, Wasni had begun stabbing Nelson from behind with a machete and a hunting knife she had just stolen from the Walmart at 3626 W. Touhy Ave. in Skokie, investigators determined.
“Help me, help me,” Nelson shouted, according to the first 911 caller. “I’m going to die.”
Nelson was discovered critically injured outside an apartment building after another witness found his abandoned Hyundai Sonata covered in blood in the middle of Lincoln Avenue with the engine left running.
Another 911 caller heard Nelson shouting and noticed the blood trail leading to the southeast corner of the apartment building at 7201 Lincoln Ave.
Before succumbing to at least a half-dozen stab wounds at St. Francis Hospital, Nelson identified his attacker as the girl who had been riding in his car, telling a paramedic “she came at me with a machete” and describing her to the first officers to arrive at the scene, detectives reported.
Investigators said the Uber app was still open on Nelson’s phone showing a customer named “Eliza” when it was found inside the Hyundai.
Uber’s policies forbid unaccompanied minors from its ride-hailing service. But in a response to a request for information about Wasni, a company staffer said it only keeps records of its riders’ phone numbers, email addresses and payment information.
Eliza Wasni was found behind a building in the 7300 block of Lincoln Avenue. She had ditched a blood-stained Chicago Cubs t-shirt but refused to drop the knife and machete until after being tased by police, authorities said. She declined to provide a statement to police following her arrest.
Nelson was a 2001 New Trier High School graduate who later attended the University of Colorado at Boulder. At a memorial service, friends said he demonstrated tremendous compassion for animals and could identify a piece of classical music in just a few notes.
“Grant was an extraordinary figure in our lives. He was a gentle soul, he was a good man. He was a wonderful lover of animals, classical music, opera, military history, just a wide variety and wide breadth of interests,” his sister, Alex Nelson, told reporters after his killing.
“The loss of intelligence and conversation and nuance and thoughtfulness that he brought into all of our lives is going to be felt and it will reverberate with us throughout the coming weeks and months and years,” she said. “It’s not a hole that can be easily filled.”
Eliza Wasni, now 19, briefly attended Taft High School and a North Side therapeutic day school before the killing. Under a plea deal she signed Monday, she is sentenced to remain in state prison until the age of 44.
Judge Timothy Chambers also ordered that Wasni undergo continued mental health assessments and three years of mandatory supervision following her release.
Eliza Wasni’s motive for the murder remains undetermined. Prosecutors have said she has continued to express homicidal sentiments while in jail and has harmed herself on multiple occasions.
On the night of the fatal stabbing, Nelson, who also worked as a waiter at a Northbrook restaurant, had dinner with his family at the Wilmette home they shared before heading out to earn money working for the ride-hailing company.
Two other Uber drivers had picked up Eliza Wasni and dropped her off in the hours before the killing, according to case reports.
The first picked her up at 1:25 a.m. in the 5800 block of North Natoma Avenue in Chicago’s Elmwood Park neighborhood before taking her to the Des Plaines train station at 1504 Northwest Highway at 2:18 a.m. Investigators were uncertain what she did there. About 40 minutes later, the second driver picked her up about a half-mile away in the 1700 block of Rand Road and dropped her off at the Skokie Walmart shortly after 2:30 a.m.
Security camera video shows Eliza Wasni acquire a hunting knife and machete from the store, and about 15 minutes later she walked out of the store without paying at 2:48 a.m. Staff at the Walmart later told police Wasni had said something threatening to the security guard who was standing by the exit.
A security guard told police he saw two Walmart managers, a maintenance worker, another guard and at least four staff members gathered near the door after she left.
“She’s by Touhy, walking with a knife,” one said, according to a police report. The security guard told an officer he was unable to find Wasni outside the store. No one there called police.
It was not until 30 minutes later that Nelson picked up Eliza Wasni for the fatal ride.
By that point, she had brought the freshly stolen blades about a half-mile west to the 4000 block of Touhy Avenue in Lincolnwood.
Dispatch records show the first 911 call about the stabbing was received at 3:22 a.m., and the first officers arrived within four minutes.
A civil lawsuit brought by Nelson’s family names as defendants Allied Universal, Monterrey Security, University Protection, Walmart, Uber and Chicago Behavioral Hospital, according to Cook County court records. The suit remains pending after a judge denied motions to dismiss it.
“We believe that at 3 a.m. in the morning, it was very obvious that this young girl with a machete in one hand and a knife in the other hand, with no receipt, was not going to do anything good,” family attorney Robert Bingle told Patch. “And, if Walmart and its agents had simply followed their own procedures, this terrible tragedy would have been avoided.”
Skokie Patch requested records of the Walmart shoplifting incident shortly after the lawsuit was filed in June 2017. But Skokie village officials improperly withheld them in violation of the Freedom of Information Act, according to a determination from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.
Police reports turned over by village staff in December 2018 confirm that no Walmart employee ever contacted police to report the theft of the weapons that killed Nelson