Man charged with fatally stabbing bank worker in lobby of River North branch office

Jessica Vilaythong, 24, was attacked Wednesday morning “after having a brief conversation” with a man inside the Chase Bank branch at 600 N. Dearborn St.

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Jessica Vilaythong, 24, was attacked Wednesday morning “after having a brief conversation” with a man inside the Chase Bank branch at 600 N. Dearborn St.

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A man has been charged with fatally stabbing a bank worker in the lobby of a River North branch office Wednesday.

Jawaun Westbrooks, 35, faces one felony count of first-degree murder in the death of 24-year-old Jessica Vilaythong, Chicago police said.

Vilaythong was attacked around 11:10 a.m. Wednesday “after having a brief conversation” with a man inside the Chase Bank branch at 600 N. Dearborn St., police and fire officials said.

Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said the stabbing was caught on video, which showed the shirt the person wore, their jogging pants and another shirt over his head. The details of the shirt helped police find Westbrooks.

Video stills were sent to officers working the downtown area and the department set a grid search so they “weren’t roaming aimlessly looking.” Police identified him as he was walking.

“Due to calling for backup and having the proper people there, we were able to take him into custody without him harming somebody else or an officer,” Deenihan said. “It really was a good job to get that person taken into custody that quickly, especially everybody was afraid that he could possibly harm or be harming somebody else.”

A weapon was recovered at his arrest.

Chase Bank closed their downtown branches Wednesday as a precaution, a spokesman said.

“We are devastated by the passing of our colleague Jessica Vilaythong and extend our deepest sympathies to her family and loved ones during this incredibly difficult time,” the spokesman said. “Jessica was a wonderful person and valued employee. She was extremely outgoing, passionate, hardworking, and quick to help clients. We will miss her greatly.”

Westbrooks is expected in court Saturday.

Westbrooks, whose family has said he struggles with mental illness, was accused in 2014 of attacking two women with a hammer as they walked on the lakefront path near Navy Pier.

“In 2014, he was charged with attempted murder and how the person got out and is now charged with first degree murder. … Obviously there’s frustrations from our standpoint,” Chicago police Supt. David Brown said at Friday’s news conference.

He was charged with two felony counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and attempted murder in that incident. Westbrooks was later found not guilty by reason of insanity, according to court records.

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