Prosecutors: Elgin woman was stabbed 55 times by neighbor

  • Paul A. Johnson

    Paul A. Johnson

  • Lisa Koziol-Ellis

    Lisa Koziol-Ellis

  • Crime scene tape secures an Elgin townhouse as police investigate the murder of Lisa Koziol-Ellis in March 2013.

      Crime scene tape secures an Elgin townhouse as police investigate the murder of Lisa Koziol-Ellis in March 2013. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 5/11/2015 10:14 PM

An artist who had just moved to an Elgin townhouse was stabbed 55 times -- including 24 times in the head -- by a neighbor who lived three doors away in 2013, Kane County prosecutors said Monday as the murder trial of Paul A. Johnson began.

The 36-year-old Elgin man faces up to life in prison if convicted of killing Lisa Koziol-Ellis, 33, on March 2, 2013, while her husband was at work in Chicago.

 

Prosecutors said DNA from blood found on the inside door of Koziol-Ellis' townhouse matched that of Johnson, a felon with a history of violent crimes.

Prosecutors said Johnson told police he wasn't feeling well after work and went right to sleep the night of March 1, 2013.

Koziol-Ellis, a Chicago artist whose nickname was "Foxy Goat," was found in a pool of blood about 2:30 a.m. March 2 by her husband, Dash Ellis, when he came home from work.

"The defendant wasn't a guest. He was an intruder," said Assistant State's Attorney Bill Engerman. "This defendant attacked a woman without provocation, ravaged her body with a screwdriver and a knife. The defendant lied to police."

Surveillance video from a nearby Walgreens showed Johnson and his half-brother buying beer the night of March 1, Engerman said.

Johnson wasn't calling or texting anyone from 11:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., when police believe Koziol-Ellis was killed and her neighbor, who shared a wall, heard a "thump" and what sounded like the "cry of a small child," Engerman said.

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After police responded to the murder scene on the 0-99 block of Garden Crescent Court, Johnson downloaded a police scanner app on his phone at 3 a.m.

He also incessantly searched media websites for news about Koziol-Ellis' murder in the next week and did Internet searches the same day she was killed on how long it takes for DNA, fingerprint and toxicology samples to be processed, Engerman said.

Drops of blood in the snow also went in a trail from outside Koziol-Ellis' door past Johnson's townhouse, which was three doors away and in the same building.

Assistant Public Defender Ron Dolak acknowledged that Elgin police did their due diligence after Koziol-Ellis' death and ruled out her husband.

But as community pressure grew and leads dried up, police latched onto Johnson's half brother, Harry Dobrowolski, who offered to meet with Johnson and wear a hidden recording device, Dolak argued.

Dobrowolski lived in Chicago but would visit and was in town that weekend to sort through the belongings of his and Johnson's mother, who had died earlier that year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Dolak argued that Dobrowolski killed Koziol-Ellis and that Johnson, out of "blind loyalty," helped his half-brother clean up the crime scene. That's how his blood got there, Dolak said.

Dobrowolski, whom Dolak characterized as "lost soul" who was in his 50s but never had a steady job, died of a drug overdose in May 2014. Dolak said Dobrowolski never admitted on the secret recording that he killed Koziol-Ellis and police didn't do a forensic search of Dobrowolski's cellphone or examined his body for defensive wounds like they did for Johnson.

"Elgin (police) wanted this (case solved) so badly. They saw what they wanted to see and jumped to a conclusion," Dolak said, adding that Johnson had a job and a girlfriend and just bought a puppy. "Paul had no reason to do this. Paul's life was going well.

The trial before Judge Susan Clancy Boles is expected to last until the end of this week, and possibly run into next week.

Johnson has been held at the Kane County jail on $5 million bail since his arrest in mid-March 2013.

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