Elgin murder victim's sister: To know her was to know love
While police continue their investigation into Elgin's first homicide of 2013, family and friends are remembering Lisa Koziol-Ellis as loving, accepting and unique.
Police have few new details about the slaying of the 33-year-old Elgin woman who was found dead in her townhouse early Saturday morning, and they are uncertain whether her killing was a targeted or random act, said Elgin Police Cmdr. Glenn Theriault.
Family and friends waiting for answers said they are still in shock at the loss.
"She was an amazing, caring person who did everything possible to put everyone else before herself and let us all know how much she loved us," said her sister, Renee Martinson of Glendale Heights.
"My sister was creative, she was wonderful, she was beautiful," Martinson said. "She had so many friends. It's amazing how many friends she had and how many people are hurting just as much as we are."
Martinson is 11 months older than Koziol-Ellis, who would have turned 34 this week. Their other two sisters, Michelle and Grace, and their parents all live in the Chicago suburbs
"Everyone is a mess. Everyone is devastated," she said, adding that the family is anxiously awaiting answers before making funeral arrangements. She added that her sister was a dedicated Catholic who went to church every Sunday.
An autopsy is scheduled for Monday, but as of Sunday night police had made no arrests and had no suspects in custody.
Authorities are asking that residents in the Garden Quarter Townhomes, where neighbors said Koziol-Ellis recently moved with her husband, watch for suspicious activity and report it to police. The department is adding patrols to the area as a precaution.
"We will leave no stone unturned until we find who committed this crime," Theriault said. "I understand the community wants to know what they should do. We are asking to redouble their efforts doing what we always ask of them. ... It may be just a little piece of information we need to solve this crime."
Police would not say whether there were signs of a break-in at the residence or give the apparent cause of death.
Neighbors said Koziol-Ellis and her husband had just started moving into the townhouse, on the 0-100 block of Garden Crescent Court, earlier in the week after living in Chicago.
Salvador Santoyo, who lives next door, said he was getting ready for bed about 1 a.m. Saturday when he heard three loud thumps on the shared wall between their townhouses and then a groan.
"Someone tried to scream, that was it," Santoyo said. "To me, that was normal because I thought she was moving things around."
By 2:30 a.m., police were on the scene investigating after Koziol-Ellis' husband found her body in the home and called 911. He has been fully cooperating with the investigation, Theriault said.
Koziol-Ellis worked as an aide at the Marklund Children's Home in Wood Dale for many years, and when Martinson went to volunteer there she said she saw much love her sister had for the children.
"To know her was to know love because she was nothing but love," Martinson said.
Koziol-Ellis was very involved in Chicago's performance community, often hosting or emceeing shows with what friends called an upbeat, inclusive and engaging personality.
She also went by the artist name Foxy Goat Lisa and was known for her drawings, jewelry and other artwork.
"She would draw you as she saw you and it was just really amazing how she was able to capture people," said friend Tamale Sepp of Chicago. "She had such a sweet, charming way of interacting with people and then something outrageous would come out of her mouth and you just wouldn't believe it."
Sepp leads a group of women motorcycle riders in the Chicago Pride Parade each year. For the past several years Koziol-Ellis has shared her bike, the two dressed up in gothic but feminine attire for the occasion.
"We were like gothic princesses," Sepp remembered.
Though Koziol-Ellis was decorated with piercings and body art, that wasn't an indication of a tough personality, friends said.
"People thought she looked intimidating because she had so many tattoos, but once you got to know her she was the sweetest, most loving person and would do anything for anyone, which is why no one can understand this," said longtime friend Kashif Ali.
Ali, who now lives in Elk Grove Village, said the two met on a ride home from school when they were both students at Conant High School in Hoffman Estates 19 years ago and had been friends ever since.
"I don't believe it. I still don't want to accept it," he said. "I've talked to her pretty much every day for the past 10 years and now nothing. I don't even know what to say or do."
Friends had already planned to gather in Chicago on Tuesday night to celebrate Koziol-Ellis' birthday, but Ali said that celebration has now turned into a remembrance and grieving time for friends.
Meanwhile on Sunday, several news vans and a police squad cars were parked in the quiet Elgin neighborhood just east of McLean Boulevard on Wing Street.
"It's frightening. I don't know what happened to (Koziol-Ellis)," said neighbor Joanne Johnson. "I was concerned if it was a break-in, how safe are we here? I guess until we find out what happened, I'm going to be a little afraid."
Anyone with information is asked to call Elgin police at (847) 695-4195 or (847) 289-2700.