Westmont man accused of strangling his wife

  • Ian A. Alamilla

    Ian A. Alamilla

Updated 4/12/2010 9:54 PM

A Westmont man is accused of strangling his estranged wife the morning before their daughter's 5th birthday party, as the child and two older siblings slept in another part of the home.

Hours later, a distraught Ian A. Alamilla walked into a Chicago police station and said he was involved in "a fight with my wife in the suburbs," prosecutors said.


"Did you kill her?" the police sergeant asked.

"I don't know," Alamilla replied, according to prosecutors. "You need to send someone to check."

The 33-year-old man was ordered held Monday on a $2 million bond. Alamilla must post the required 10 percent as bail to be set free.

Prosecutor Robert Berlin said Alamilla strangled his wife, Tara, 34, early Saturday in their home on the 300 block of Park Street in Westmont. The wife filed for divorce March 5, court records showed. The former couple married Aug. 2, 2002, in Oak Brook.

The three children, ages 11, 6, and 5, were not physically injured and did not witness the violence.

Tara Alamilla worked since 2006 as a Brookfield Zoo school program coordinator for the Chicago Zoological Society. She trained elementary and high school teachers how to go beyond the textbook in science and conservation lessons to better engage their students. Alamilla also worked with students with special needs.

A memorial fund was set up in her honor.

"Tara always stood out," said Stuart Strahl, the Chicago Zoological Society's CEO and president. "Not only was she a caring and warm person, but she was a very enthusiastic and capable leader who made the teachers she worked with feel like she was one of them."

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Added Alejandro Grajal, senior vice president of conservation, education, and training: "She was very much beloved here, not only among the office staff but it was surprising to walk around the zoo, everyone from the grounds keepers to the cleaning crew was giving condolences."

Ian Alamilla worked for Parker Hannifin Corp. in Woodridge. He did not have a violent criminal history and had been staying with a friend in Woodridge during the separation.

He met with his estranged wife late Friday in their home, prosecutors said. They said a fatal dispute erupted shortly later.

At about 2 a.m. Saturday, Berlin said, a distraught Alamilla returned to his friend's house, gathered his belongings and left. By 5:30 a.m., Alamilla drove to Chicago and turned himself in to police. He did not provide a full confession, other than admitting the two argued earlier that morning.

Berlin said officers found the former couple's back door unlocked, as Alamilla said, and his slain wife lying clothed in a basement bedroom. Her body was covered with a blanket. Their children - including the youngest, Maya, who turned 5 Saturday - still were sleeping.


"Tragically, Tara's life was taken on the birthday of her youngest child," DuPage State's Attorney Joseph Birkett said. "The heartbreaking, senseless loss of life in this case is compounded because it involves three young children who have lost their mother and now see their father accused of taking her life."

An autopsy confirmed Tara Alamilla died of strangulation. She is survived by her Oak Brook parents, Joyci and Alan Feldman, who serves on the village's police pension board, as well as two brothers and a sister.

DuPage Associate Judge Liam Brennan ordered Ian Alamilla, a native of Belize, to surrender his passport if he makes bail. He is due in court May 10.

The former couple's divorce attorneys did not return phone calls Monday seeking comment, but nothing in court records indicates a history of violence. And police never responded to the Westmont home for earlier domestic calls.