NAPERVILLE – The suburban Chicago woman charged with murder in the stabbing deaths of her 7-year-old son and a 5-year-old girl she was babysitting had been upset about her own father's recent death, a prosecutor said Friday.
But what role Elzbieta Plackowska's grief over her father's death may have played in her actions Tuesday – when authorities say she stabbed the two children dozens of times as they begged for their lives – DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin could not say.
Berlin said previously that Plackowska told investigators she killed her son because she was upset with her husband and the girl because she was a witness. He said Friday no other explanations have emerged; as far as investigators know, Plackowska has no history of mental illness or hospitalization.
The children's gruesome deaths have shaken Naperville, a vibrant, populous suburb 25 miles west of Chicago. Officers discovered their bodies after Marta Dworakowski reported her 5-year-old daughter, Olivia, missing. Dworakowski had arrived home to discover her door locked and the babysitter's car gone. Police found Olivia on a bed and 7-year-old Justin Plackowska on the floor beside it.
Plackowska told investigators that the children had been jumping on the bed. She ordered them to kneel on the floor and pray and then stabbed them both dozens of times as they begged for their lives, Berlin said.
Investigators found a blood-stained steak knife in the kitchen sink and another knife in Plackowska's car, he said.
Covered in blood, Plackowska drove to a Catholic church. Finding it closed, she called the church and left a message saying she had "done something bad" and needed help, Berlin said. She then went to a friend's home where her adult son was staying and said she had been robbed. Police arrested her there.
Plackowska, a 40-year-old Polish immigrant, told investigators that her husband, a truck driver, used to bring her flowers and gifts, but she resented him being home only on weekends and that she had to work as a maid, which she felt was beneath her, Berlin said.
"She felt he truly did not appreciate how fine a wife and mother she was," he said. "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."
One neighbor said he frequently heard the couple shouting at each other. "It happened once every other month," Victor Tuckenberry said.
But Plackowska's husband, Artur, denied the two were having problems.
"The day before [the killings] she told me that she loves me," he said Thursday in a brief interview with The Associated Press.
Plackowska arrived in the United States from Poland on a tourist visa 12 years ago, Berlin said. She is not a U.S. citizen, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it had placed a hold on her because she could be eligible for deportation.
ICE officials did not elaborate on the agency's statement, but one common reason ICE starts deportation proceedings is because someone's tourist visa has expired.
Berlin said Plackowska had known Dworakowski since the beginning of the school year, although Justin and Olivia went to different schools and it wasn't clear how the two women met. Plackowska babysat Olivia numerous times as her mother works nights as a nurse, he said.
Don Babwin reported from Chicago. AP News Researcher Jennifer Farrar contributed to this report from New York.