Naperville mother Elzbieta Plackowska stabbed her 7-year-old son about 100 times — even as he begged for his life — then turned the knife on a 5-year-old girl who had just witnessed the horrifying slaughter, prosecutors alleged Thursday.
Plackowska, 40, was ordered held without bail in the Tuesday night slayings of her son Justin and Olivia Dworakowski, a kindergartner she was baby sitting while the girl’s mother was at work.
Naperville Police Chief Bob Marshall described the crime scene at Olivia’s home on Quin Court as the “most gruesome and horrific” he’d seen in 30 years.
“The senseless taking of the lives of these two children defies logic,” he told reporters Thursday at a news conference in Wheaton.
DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin said Justin was stabbed repeatedly in the face, chest, arms, legs and back, and Olivia was stabbed about 50 times in similar fashion. It appeared both children’s throats were slashed.
Berlin said the children had been told to go to sleep but were jumping on a bed when Plackowska entered a master bedroom and told them to kneel and pray.
“She began stabbing her son Justin and told him he was going to heaven tonight,” Berlin said. “He pleaded for his life and told her to stop but she continued stabbing him until he was dead. She then turned her attention to the 5-year-old Olivia and began stabbing her multiple times. She, as well, pleaded for her life, but the defendant continued to stab her until she was deceased.”
Plackowska also fatally stabbed two family dogs, according to prosecutors.
Police apprehended her after she traveled to a friend’s home on Violet Circle in Naperville, where her 20-year-old son also had been staying. Berlin said she called her church in Naperville on the way to the friend’s home and left a message that she had “done something bad” and needed help.
Someone at the Violet Circle address called police to report Plackowska arrived covered in blood and claiming she was robbed. At roughly the same time, Berlin said, Olivia’s mother called police because she was locked out of her townhouse and couldn’t find Plackowska or her child.
Police forced entry into Olivia’s home to find a scene of “unimaginable horror,” with blood covering a hall leading to the master bedroom, Berlin said investigators found a blood-soaked steak knife in the kitchen sink and another bloody knife in Plackowska’s car on Violet. The children were in the bedroom — Justin on the floor and Olivia on the bed.
In several hours of recorded interrogation, Plackowska gave conflicting statements about what transpired, according to Berlin. At first, she claimed an intruder had harmed the children while she was outside smoking. Then she told police the children “had the devil inside them” and she was trying to cast out evil. In a third version, she said the children were “poisoned by society and not listening to her like they should,” Berlin said.
Finally, she confessed she was upset because her husband, an over-the-road trucker, spent most days traveling away from home, and she had to work as a cleaning lady, “which she felt was beneath her,” according to prosecutors.
“She ultimately admitted that she lied to police in her earlier statements,” Berlin said. “She said she did not feel (her husband) truly appreciated how fine a wife and mother she was. She told the detectives she thought by killing Justin she would make her husband hurt the way she hurt in their relationship.”
Asked why she killed the girl, “she stated that Olivia was there and had seen her kill Justin. She needed to kill Olivia as well,” Berlin said.
“She admitted that she alone murdered the children,” he said.
Plackowska moved to the U.S. from Poland about 12 years ago on a vacation visa. She remained in the country but was not a U.S. citizen, prosecutors said.
Her shoulder-length blonde hair was tangled, but she appeared lucid when she appeared before Judge John Kinsella, who denied bail.
Plackowska, wearing a yellow jail uniform with her hands shackled in front of her, answered appropriately when asked her name and whether she had an attorney. Assistant Public Defender Mike Mara was appointed to represent her.
“She seemed upset but I don’t know beyond that,” Mara said. “She is on suicide watch at the jail. I briefly spoke to her. It’s very early in the case. Obviously, once I get the evidence, I will review it with her.”
Prosecutors said Plackowska had no record other than a misdemeanor DUI from several years ago. If convicted of killing both children, she would face a mandatory sentence of natural life.
In a brief telephone interview, Plackowska’s husband, Artur, denied the two were having problems. “The day before (the killings) she told me that she loves me,” he said in heavily accented and halting English. However, a neighbor, Victor Tuckenberry, said he frequently heard the couple shouting at each other during the past five years. “It happened once every other month,” he said. “It was nothing physical.” Tuckenberry said he was shocked by the slayings and that Plackowska doted on her sons. He said she and Justin “were together all the time.”
It was unclear if any family members of the victims attended Thursday’s court appearance. A group of people suspected of being there for the case denied they had any connection as TV news cameras followed them the courthouse.
Plackowska has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and is due back in court Nov. 21.
“Our hearts go out to the families of the two victims,” Berlin said, crediting Naperville police for “moving swiftly to apprehend the suspect.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.