NAPERVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A suburban Chicago woman ordered her 7-year-old son and a kindergartner she was babysitting to kneel on a bedroom floor and pray, then stabbed them both dozens of times as they begged for their lives, striking again and again as she told her son he was going to heaven, authorities said Thursday.
Officers who forced their way inside the locked apartment hours later found blood-spattered walls and the children's bodies in a master bedroom where moments before the killings they had been happily jumping on a bed, prosecutors said.
The Naperville police chief said it was the most gruesome sight he'd seen in three decades on the job.
Elzbieta Plackowska, a 40-year-old immigrant from Poland, offered numerous explanations for the violence, including that she was battling the devil and trying to rid the children of evil, DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said. But she eventually told investigators she stabbed the children and slashed their throats on Tuesday night because she was angry that her husband, a truck driver, was often away.
"She told the detectives that she thought by killing (her son) Justin she would make her husband hurt the way she hurt in their relationship," Berlin said.
Twenty-five miles west of Chicago, Naperville is known for its idyllic Riverwalk, bustling downtown shops and stellar schools. It's also where Marilyn Lemak fed her three children peanut butter laced with antidepressants and suffocated them as revenge on her estranged husband 13 years ago.
Residents of the wealthy, usually quiet community struggled Thursday to comprehend the latest bloodshed.
"I don't understand anything that's going on," said Tim Hooper, 28, who lives in the same condominium complex as the Plackowska family and would sometimes work out with an older son. "This is so out of the blue."
Plackowska told detectives she found Justin and 5-year-old Olivia Dworakowski jumping on a bed, Berlin said.
"She had grabbed the knife and she made both victims kneel and begin praying. She began stabbing her son Justin and told him he was going to heaven tonight. He pleaded for his life and told her to stop. But she continued stabbing him until he was dead," he said at a news conference after a judge ordered Plackowska held without bond.
"She then turned her attention to 5-year-old Olivia and began stabbing her with the knife multiple times. She, as well, pleaded for her life, but the defendant continued to stab her until she was deceased."
Plackowska killed Olivia because she had witnessed the attack on Justin, Berlin said.
The slayings took place at the home of Olivia's mother, who works nights as a nurse and had left her daughter in Plackowska's care before. Plackowska also stabbed the two family dogs.
Olivia's body was found on the bed, and Justin's was found on the floor beside it. He had stab wounds on his head, face, neck and back. Both appeared to have had their throats slit.