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updated: 9/19/2017 8:46 PM

Psychiatrist says murder suspect showed signs of mental illness

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  • Elzbieta Plackowska hid her face on Sept. 12 as she listened to opening statements with Assistant Public Defender Kristen Nevdal, right, at the DuPage County courthouse in Wheaton. Plackowska is accused of murdering her son and a young girl she was baby sitting in October 2012.

      Elzbieta Plackowska hid her face on Sept. 12 as she listened to opening statements with Assistant Public Defender Kristen Nevdal, right, at the DuPage County courthouse in Wheaton. Plackowska is accused of murdering her son and a young girl she was baby sitting in October 2012.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Elzbieta Plackowska is accused of murdering her son and a girl she was baby-sitting in 2012 in Naperville.

      Elzbieta Plackowska is accused of murdering her son and a girl she was baby-sitting in 2012 in Naperville.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Elzbieta Plackowska

    Elzbieta Plackowska

 
 

A psychiatrist who examined Elzbieta Plackowska at the DuPage County Jail said Tuesday he believes she was suffering a psychotic episode in 2012 when she was taken into custody for killing her son and a young girl she was baby-sitting.

Jail psychiatrist James Corcoran also testified during Plackowska's double-murder trial that he does not believe she was pretending to be mentally ill.

"I have no reason to believe that she was malingering," or fabricating signs of mental illness, Corcoran said.

Plackowska, 45, is on trial for the October 2012 stabbing deaths of her 7-year-old son, Justin Plackowski, and 5-year-old Olivia Dworakowski.

Attorneys for Plackowska say she started losing her battle with bipolar disease in the weeks after her father's death. They say she wasn't in control of her actions the night of Oct. 30, 2012, when she repeatedly stabbed Justin and Olivia.

Prosecutors say she killed the children while baby-sitting at Olivia's house. Plackowska also is accused of fatally stabbing her dog and Olivia's dog.

Plackowska told investigators she killed her son to get back at her husband, a trucker who spent most days traveling away from home. Prosecutors say her murderous rage was fueled by alcoholism and a feeling of worthlessness.

On the night the children were killed, Plackowska traveled to a friend's house in Naperville, where her 20-year-old son had been staying. While en route, she called her church in Naperville and left a message saying she "saw the devil" and "did something wrong."

Someone at her friend's house called police to report Plackowska arrived covered in blood and claiming she had been robbed.

At roughly the same time, Olivia's mother, who had been at work, was calling police because she was locked out of her townhouse and couldn't find Plackowska or her child.

Naperville officers forced entry into Olivia's house to find blood covering a hall leading to the master bedroom. Investigators found a blood-soaked steak knife in the kitchen sink and another bloody knife in Plackowska's car.

The children were in the bedroom -- Justin on the floor and Olivia on the bed.

After she was taken into custody Oct. 31, Plackowska was agitated, uncooperative and talked rapidly, according Corcoran. He also testified she was laughing uncontrollably.

"She did not fully understand the serious legal situation she was in," he said.

Corcoran said Plackowska thought someone was after her or trying to control her. She also claimed her food had been poisoned.

Her bizarre behavior continued for several weeks. At one point, Plackowska flooded her cell because she thought someone was trying to burn down the jail. She also claimed to eat imaginary food.

"I gave an opinion that I thought she was psychotic at the time," said Corcoran, who has visited Plackowska 53 times since 2012. He said she improved after receiving medication.

Corcoran said the psychotic episode was resolved by December 2012. At that time, he diagnosed that Plackowska had depressive disorder.

If Plackowska is found to be not guilty by reason of insanity, she could be confined to a state mental hospital rather than prison. If found guilty and sane, she could be sentenced to natural life in prison.

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