Man gets life for killing elderly woman, taking rings to propose to girlfriend

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - A day after Virginia Perillo was brutally attacked in her Bridgeport garage, her eldest son softly held her hand as she drew her last breath, assuring her it was OK to let go.

Later that week, Raymond Harris lovingly held the hands of his high school sweetheart and proposed with the wedding and engagement rings he took from 73-year-old Perillo after bludgeoning her, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

It was a “cold and callous murder that was stifling and stunning,” Cook County Judge Charles Burns said Wednesday before sentencing Harris to life in prison without parole.

Burns said he didn’t want to “waste his breath” by telling the career criminal to improve his life behind bars.

“Your moral compass points due south,” a visibly angry Burns told Harris, who spent time in prison for two other violent incidents.

Burns said the 40-year-old Carpentersville man has built a “legacy of suffering and agony.”

Harris “left Perillo on the slab of her own garage like back-alley roadkill” and went on to “show off” the stolen rings as if he had “won the Super Bowl,” the judge said.

Perillo, who worked as a nurse, was found face down in a pool of blood next to a running car in her garage on Oct. 22, 2011.

Five days later, Harris popped the question to his longtime love, Lorraine Reed. She said “yes.”

But there would be no wedding.

Investigators were led to Harris after his DNA was found on a bloody watch that he left inside a car in Perillo’s garage in the 3300 block of South Parnell.

Harris may have had employees at a trophy shop erase Perillo’s initials off the rings, but he couldn’t get them to wash the blood off his hands, Burns said.

John Perillo on Wednesday described his mother as “humble and loving.” She was the “glue” that kept the family together, he said reading from his victim-impact statement.

Virginia Perillo had just returned from visiting an area hospital to check on her husband, who had suffered a stroke, before Harris accosted her.

John Perillo said his dad now silently suffers through depression, which contributes to his physical ailments. “Our loss was so unexpected that we were not prepared for the repercussions,” he said.

Harris was paroled in May 2011 after serving 13 years of a 30-year sentence for his 1997 attempted murder and aggravated arson convictions.

Just three weeks before that attack, Harris had been released from prison for a 1993 armed robbery, vehicular invasion and burglary. In that case, Harris brandished a gun at a woman leaving her car outside her home.

Both victims in those crimes briefly testified for the prosecution on Wednesday.

Outside of court, John Perillo, 40, said Harris’ sentencing gave him “legal closure” because “he won’t be able to harm anyone else.”

“Emotionally, mentally we’re still suffering on some level,” John Perillo said of his grieving family. “We’re still sad.”

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