Daily Herald - Suburban Chicago's source for news This copy is for personal, non-commercial use. To order presentation-ready copies for distribution you can: 1) Use the "Reprint" button found on the top and bottom of every article, 2) Visit reprints.theygsgroup.com/dailyherald.asp for samples and additional information or 3) Order a reprint of this article now.
Article updated: 11/1/2012 8:00 AM

Naperville mom expected in bond court today

Naperville mom accused of killing son, another's daughter

By Josh Stockinger Justin Kmitch Christopher Placek

A Naperville mother was charged late Wednesday with the murders of her 7-year-old son and a 5-year-old girl, who were found stabbed dozens of times, authorities said.

Elzbieta Plackowska was charged with first-degree murder and is expected to appear in DuPage County bond court Thursday morning, state's attorney spokesman Paul Darrah said.

Authorities made the grisly discovery during a well-being check at 10:18 p.m. Tuesday on the 800 block of Quin Court. Two dogs also were found fatally stabbed inside the home.

Sources said Plackowska had been watching the younger child at that child's home in the same neighborhood while her mother was at work. The children are Plackowska's son Justin, and Olivia Dworakowski.

Elzbieta Plackowska was not at the murder scene when police arrived, but a source close to the investigation said she "fell into our lap" within an hour and was "covered in blood." Firefighters said she was taken from a relative's home on the 700 block of Violet Circle in Naperville to Edward Hospital.

A law enforcement source said the suspect told investigators she heard "demonic voices" before she stabbed the children but also acknowledged being angry with her husband.

The source said the suspect had been upset for several days about the recent death of her father. In a phone call Tuesday, she argued with her husband about wanting to return to her native Poland and, at one point, took the children to a Naperville church before returning to Quin Court, the source said.

Plackowska returned to the church after the children were killed but found no one there, the source said, adding that she left messages on the church answering machine and then drove to the relative's home.

Jeff Jost, who lives on the block where the suspect was taken into custody, said he took his dogs out about 2:20 a.m. Wednesday and saw at least six squad cars surrounding a neighboring home.

Jost said police towed away a white sport utility vehicle, telling him there was a murder weapon inside. He said the police vehicles remained on the scene until 7:30 a.m.

Autopsies are planned for this morning, DuPage Coroner Pete Siekmann said.

The children were found in a townhouse complex at the end of a cul-de-sac in the Brookdale subdivision in northwest Naperville. Police blocked off traffic to the home Wednesday as crime-scene investigators wearing gloves entered and exited the first floor carrying bags.

Justin was a student at Scott Elementary School in Naperville, said Naperville Unit District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges. He called the double homicide "a tragic and upsetting event -- not only just for a school or one school district but for an entire community."

Olivia was a kindergarten student at Brookdale Elementary School in Naperville. "It is with great sadness that we inform you that the Brookdale community mourns the loss of one of our kindergarten students, who passed away last night," Principal Mary Howicz said in a written statement on the school's website Wednesday morning.

Pam Johnson, who lives near Plackowska in Naperville's Olive Trees condominium complex, said the woman moved in about two years ago and was often seen smoking on her balcony, where a boy's bicycle remained Wednesday.

Johnson said Plackowska lived with her husband, had two children -- Justin and a college-age son -- and a pet Chihuahua.

"Both boys were wonderful children," she said. "They really were great kids. They would always open the door and say hello to you if you were at the door at the same time."

Johnson expressed shock at the murder of the boy. "That little boy ... never left her side."

Plackowska regularly brought Justin and Olivia to lessons at World Champion Tae Kwon Do in Naperville. Instructor Pablo Herrera-Urizar said he taught Justin there for more than a year.

"It's difficult to believe something like this could happen," Herrera-Urizar said. "For Justin I could tell he loved doing what he did. I'm very sad I can't see him progress to where he wanted to go. ... I helped him out as best I could. I wanted to see him grow up and see what he could do."

Herrera-Urizar said he "got along very well" with Plackowska, who would often stay during tae kwon do lessons. He said Plackowska regularly looked after Olivia, who was on the beginner's level in tae kwon do.

Justin, who had a senior deputy belt, had just won first place in a sparring competition at the tae kwon do studio Oct. 13.

Herrera-Urizar said he had just seen Justin in class Friday. He says he had kept improving at the sport after he began sparring. "He was good. Sometimes it was difficult for him to listen. Then he started to spar. Then he began listening more. I kind of got really close to him and joked with him. He was getting much better. He was really good at what he did."

Parents Artur and Elizbieta Plackowska and their sons joined St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in June 2011, according to church bulletin archives. Roughly six months later, Justin received the Catholic sacrament of reconciliation, then received his first Holy Communion this May, archives show.

Church officials did not immediately respond to phone or email requests on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, school officials said parents shouldn't hesitate to contact them if they believe their children are having difficulty with the news.

At least 60 parents walked to Brookdale Elementary School as school was letting out Wednesday afternoon to pick up their kindergarten students hand in hand.

Gina Blizek of Naperville said her son sat next to Olivia in kindergarten teacher Julie Troemel's class. Blizek said she lives only about four blocks from the scene of the killings and said her son and the younger victim are on the same carpool list.

"I'm a little worried on his thoughts of what he's feeling," Blizek said.

The family heard helicopters overhead Tuesday night, and Blizek said she explained to her son that their presence likely meant something bad had happened. On Wednesday afternoon before picking up her son from school, Blizek said she still was thinking about how she would explain the bad news.

At Scott Elementary, teachers and staff members were trying to "create a school day that's as close to normal as possible," District 203 spokeswoman Susan Rice said. That included a scheduled Halloween parade throughout the school building with students dressed in their costumes.

"It's important to remember that they are children," Rice said. "It's a time of celebration, and we didn't want to disrupt that experience for the students. They are having as normal of a school day as possible."

As school officials sought to calm students, neighbors in the subdivision where the slayings occurred also tried to come to terms.

"I'm heartbroken to know this happened in my community," said Thomas Brinson, who lives nearby.

Neighbor Gina Marie Vlach said she also learned of the deaths early Wednesday morning.

"This is a very quiet neighborhood," she said. "Everyone keeps to themselves, so this is surprising."

Ÿ Staff writers Jessica Cilella, Elisabeth Mistretta and Marie Wilson contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.