Mom accused of killing daughter had cancer, didn't want daughter in institution
A 55-year-old Schaumburg woman who authorities say decided to kill both her severely disabled daughter and herself left a suicide note at her bedside for her sister to find.
"I am so sorry to put you all through this, but I can't leave my daughter behind," said Bonnie Liltz's note, which was read at her bond hearing on Friday. She faces first-degree murder charges in the death of her daughter.
"I am having difficulty breathing now. If I go first, what will happen to her? I don't want her to live in an institution for the rest of her life. She is my life."
Liltz is charged with killing her 28-year-old adopted daughter, Courtney, by giving her an overdose of prescription medication on May 27. Liltz intended to kill herself as well, police said, but was unsuccessful, and was released from medical treatment on Thursday.
Bail for Liltz was set at $100,000 Friday afternoon by Judge Samuel Betar at the Rolling Meadows courthouse.
Liltz's attorney, Thomas Glasgow, said Liltz was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer when she was 19. It returned in 2012, and Liltz recently found out she will have to continue treatment and may have more surgery.
According to court testimony, Liltz told police she woke up during the night on May 27 and wrote the suicide note. She admitted feeding medication to her daughter because she didn't want Courtney to suffer if she was gone, and then, police said, took some herself.
Liltz's sister, unable to reach either mother or daughter by telephone, went to the condo later that night and let herself in. She found both women alive but unresponsive, and called 911.
Schaumburg police and paramedics got to the condo around 3:15 a.m. and the women were taken to Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village. Courtney Liltz died at 3 a.m. Friday, when the decision was made to take her off life support, said Schaumburg police Lt. Shawn Green. She had never regained consciousness.
Liltz was charged with first-degree murder by the Cook County state's attorney's office later Friday morning.
Authorities said Liltz adopted Courtney when the girl was 5. She had cerebral palsy, was non-ambulatory and required 24-hour care, and had the brain function of a 2- or 3-year-old.
Liltz was apparently her sole caregiver for the past 23 years, Green said. She was not involved in the decision to take Courtney off life support, he said.
Glasgow said that when Liltz was re-diagnosed with cancer in 2012 she was hospitalized for seven days, while Courtney was institutionalized. When Liltz got out of the hospital, Glasgow said, she was appalled at the care Courtney had gotten and couldn't bear the thought of her daughter being institutionalized if she, Liltz, died.
"She has suffered a great loss herself," Glasgow told the court Friday. The only word Courtney could say was "Mama" and he said Liltz adopted her when no one else wanted her.
Glasgow said he spoke with doctors, friends and neighbors, who told him Courtney received excellent care from her mother.
"In my 21 years practicing law, this is the most tragic case and the saddest case I have ever worked on," Glasgow said after the bond hearing.
A conviction on a first-degree murder charge carries a maximum 60-year prison sentence. The next hearing has been scheduled for June 25.
The Schaumburg Police Department has had no prior contact with the family, Green said.
"All indications are that Courtney was very well cared for," he said.