Ex-employer: Woman accused of killing 2 kids changed after father's death

  • Elzbieta Plackowska is shown at the start of her murder trial, which is continuing this week.

      Elzbieta Plackowska is shown at the start of her murder trial, which is continuing this week. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Elzbieta Plackowska is charged with killing her son and a young girl in her care.

    Elzbieta Plackowska is charged with killing her son and a young girl in her care.

Updated 9/18/2017 5:29 PM

A Naperville woman accused of stabbing two children to death in 2012 was a reliable housekeeper who seemed to change after the death of her father, a former employer testified Monday.

Elzbieta Plackowska, 45, is on trial for the Oct. 30, 2012, stabbing deaths of her 7-year-old son and a 5-year-old girl she was baby-sitting.


Lisa Bailey -- who employed Plackowska as a house cleaner once a week -- testified that Plackowska was a hard worker who always showed up on time, was exceedingly neat in appearance and never complained. But Plackowska's mood was different after she learned about her father's death in October 2012.

Plackowska initially told Bailey that she hadn't slept much. The following week, Plackowska said she was doing better because she was attending church daily. She said she talked to her dead father and knew he was in heaven.

But on Oct. 29, Plackowska arrived several hours late to Bailey's house and appeared to be disheveled and with messy hair.

"I never saw her in that state," Bailey testified. "Everything about her was out of character." On that day, she added, Plackowska said she communicated with both her father and her guardian angel. Bailey said she was going to replace Plackowska.

Attorneys for Plackowska say she started losing her battle with bipolar disease in the weeks after her father's death. They say she wasn't in control of her actions on the evening of Oct. 30, 2012, when she repeatedly stabbed her son, Justin Plackowski, 7, and 5-year-old Olivia Dworakowski.

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Prosecutors say she killed the children while baby-sitting at Olivia's home. Plackowska also is accused of fatally stabbing her dog and Olivia's dog.

Plackowska told investigators she killed her son to get back at her husband, a trucker who spent most days traveling away from home. Prosecutors say her murderous rage was fueled by alcoholism and a feeling of worthlessness.

Police found Plackowska early in the morning of Oct. 31, after she traveled to a friend's home on Violet Circle in Naperville, where her 20-year-old son had been staying. She called her church in Naperville on the way to the friend's home and left a message saying she "saw the devil" and "did something wrong."

Someone at the Violet Circle address called police to report that Plackowska arrived covered in blood and claiming she had been robbed. At roughly the same time, Olivia's mother, who had been at work, was calling police because she was locked out of her townhouse and couldn't find Plackowska or her child.


Naperville police officers forced entry into Olivia's home to find blood covering a hall leading to the master bedroom. Investigators found a blood-soaked steak knife in the kitchen sink and another bloody knife in Plackowska's car on Violet.

The children were in the bedroom -- Justin on the floor and Olivia on the bed.

Two of Plackowska's friends testified that she loved both Justin and Olivia. One of the friends said Plackowska complained that her husband didn't care enough about their relationship.

Also on Monday, a corrections officer testified that Plackowska was babbling and talking to herself during her first night in the jail. Plackowska was seen cradling an imaginary child and making stabbing motions in the air.

A nurse at the jail who speaks Polish testified that she heard Plackowska the next day talking to herself in Polish about her father and the devil. On Nov. 5, 2012, Plackowska told the nurse that she was in her house -- not her jail cell -- and that the baby was sleeping. Later that month, Plackowska was crying and said she had killed her son and Olivia, according to the nurse.

If Plackowska is found to be not guilty by reason of insanity, she could be confined to a state mental hospital rather than prison. If found guilty and sane, she could be sentenced to natural life in prison.

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