Less than three hours before Elzbieta Plackowska is accused of stabbing to death her 7-year-old son and a 5-year-old girl, she took the children to church.
Church members attending the Oct. 30, 2012, reconciliation service at Naperville's St. Elizabeth Seton Church testified Thursday that Plackowska arrived about 6:50 p.m. and immediately appeared agitated by a text conversation and was harsh with her son.
Plackowska, church member Isabella Van Der Linden said, was texting vigorously. "She had a flip phone so she was typing and flipping the phone closed, typing and flipping the phone closed," she said. "I was frustrated with it and annoyed."
Later the woman pulled her son Justin close and spoke to him in an aggressive, hushed tone as the boy cried, Van Der Linden testified. The little girl, Olivia Dworakowski, was largely ignored by Plackowska and attempted to interact with her 8-year-old daughter, Van Der Linden testified.
She acknowledged she was "intrigued" by the interaction between Plackowska and the children and kept an eye on them through the service.
The next morning when Van Der Linden learned of the murders, she said, her gut told her it was the same woman she saw in church the previous night.
Also testifying Thursday was the Rev. Patrick Murphy, former St. Elizabeth Seton priest.
He testified that a church staffer directed Plackowska to him after she said she needed to talk to someone about the recent death of her father.
Murphy said he listened to Plackowska as she spoke quickly and with a heavy accent.
He said he could understand her say her father beat her and that she cleaned houses, but not much more. After eight to 10 minutes of the one-sided conversation, Murphy said he quickly ended the conversation.
"I gave her a blessing to end the conversation," he said. "It's nice to have (church members) feel like I'm listening to them," he said. "They feel good that they've talked to a priest."
At about 10:30 p.m., Plackowska left a voicemail on Murphy's extension at the church.
Prosecutors played the audio of the brief message in which Plackowska says she "saw the devil," that she "did something wrong" and that she was contemplating killing herself.
At some point between talking to Murphy at church and the time she left the voicemail, prosecutors allege, Plackowska drove the children to the home on the 800 block of Quin Court, where she was supposed to be baby-sitting Olivia. They say Plackowska repeatedly stabbed Olivia and Justin and also killed her dachshund, Tootsie, and Olivia's cocker spaniel, Nicky.
A Naperville veterinarian testified that both dogs were stabbed multiple times.
Prosecutors say Plackowska killed the children, specifically Justin, to get back at her husband, who she said did not appreciate her.
Her defense attorneys have lodged an insanity defense, saying Plackowska suffers from a severe form of bipolar disease.
The prosecution's case continues Friday with testimony from former DuPage County chief forensic pathologist Dr. Jeff Harkey, who performed the autopsies on the slain children.