Emanuel Szyszka said he is overwhelmed by the support he and his family have received since the death Friday of his 3-year-old sister, Zuzanna Bzdek of Woodridge, in what police are calling a murder-suicide.
Zuzanna was killed Friday by her father, Robert Bzdek, who then took his own life, Woodridge police said. The tragedy has left the family devastated and their neighborhood shaken.
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Szyszka, Robert Bzdek's 17-year-old stepson, created a fundraising site online to help the family pay for funeral expenses. The response, he said, "has boggled my mind."
"It's hard to describe what it feels like," Szyszka said Sunday. "It's just so wonderful, how so many people have offered their help and support. It's really helped us through a horrible time."
The fundraising page can be found at the website gofundme.com. As of late Sunday afternoon, 175 contributors had donated $10,600.
Szyszka, a senior at Downers Grove South High School, said his family was in the midst of working out details about the funeral service, which he said probably would take place midweek.
Police have not released information about the circumstances leading to Friday's killings. Szyszka declined to go into detail about the crime or its aftermath, expressing the family's desire to grieve in private.
"As you can imagine, we're all heartbroken," he said. "At this point, we're just leaning on each other, trying to maintain our mental stability. Lots of hugs, lots of tears."
When asked what he will remember most about Zuzanna, Szyszka was silent for a moment before answering.
"It's not just one thing," he said. "She was such an awesome child in general -- so beautiful, so precious."