Des Plaines man stabbed to death remembered as generous, talented musician
Friends and fellow band members are grieving the loss of Jeffrey Ziolo, a dedicated Chicago-area musician and sound engineer who was stabbed to death last week in his Des Plaines home.
The 35-year-old, whose nickname was "Wookie," is remembered as generous, hardworking and devoted to his craft.
Ziolo was a bass player in the heavy metal band Final Dissent and had his own recording studio in his basement, said drummer and band founder Rob Saviano. He also previously worked as a sound engineer at Ye Olde Town Inn in Mount Prospect.
"He was the ultimate team player," said Saviano, who knew Ziolo for 15 years. "He's the guy everybody wished they had on their side."
Des Plaines police said Ziolo was attacked and killed early Thursday by lifelong friend Craig Grzesiakowski, who was armed with a screwdriver.
Ziolo's roommate called 911 about 10:30 a.m. after waking up to find Grzesiakowski intoxicated and passed out on the living room floor next to Ziolo, who was unresponsive and covered in blood, police said Sunday.
Ziolo, who was pronounced dead at the scene, suffered from blunt force trauma to the head, a stab wound to the back of the neck and several stab wounds to his back torso, authorities said.
First-degree murder and robbery charges have been filed against Grzesiakowski, a 35-year-old from Chicago, police said. His bail was set at $2 million.
Saviano said he and other band members had been playing music and working in Ziolo's recording studio Wednesday night and into the following morning. Grzesiakowski, whom the rest of the band had never met before, was at the house on Beau Drive listening to their music and hanging out with Ziolo, Saviano said.
Band members told police that Ziolo and Grzesiakowski had gotten into a verbal argument during the band practice, but they did not witness anything physical. After they left, Grzesiakowski attacked Ziolo, officials said.
Grzesiakowski attempted to clean up and leave the house, but he passed out several times from being too intoxicated, police said, noting large amounts of alcohol had been consumed throughout the night. Grzesiakowski also stole Ziolo's money and cellphone.
Authorities also found broken furniture at the scene and collected prescription drugs, a substance suspected to contain cocaine and other physical evidence.
Grzesiakowski was treated at Northwest Community Hospital for two superficial cuts on his thigh and remained in police custody throughout the investigation. He confessed to both Ziolo's roommate and authorities that he killed Ziolo.
"It's a shock," Saviano said. "We're mourning the loss of our brother."
Band members are now considering holding a concert in memory of Ziolo. They also honored him with a video and live recording of his favorite Final Dissent song on the band's Facebook page.
"He was an iconic individual -- someone that you could look up to, somebody you know you can trust," Saviano said. "He had a heart of gold. He's truly loved."
In addition to his work in the music industry, Ziolo worked for years as an operations manager at The ESCO Group in Mount Prospect, said Chairman Jerry Weiss, who knew Ziolo since he was born. Ziolo's mother had previously worked at the company, leading to a strong friendship between his and Weiss' families.
"Jeff was sort of like a second son to me," Weiss said, noting Ziolo was expected to eventually inherit part of the company. "He was around this company forever."
Though dedicated to The ESCO Group, Weiss knew Ziolo's true passion was in the music industry. In both careers, he said, Ziolo was hardworking, well-liked, and always willing to help.
"I never saw anybody with as many friends as he had. He was one of those people that everybody thought of as their brother," he said. "He was a terrific kid with a fantastic sense of humor whose real passion was the music world."