Elzbieta Plackowska, 40, told investigators she stabbed the children and slashed their throats on Tuesday night at a Naperville home because she was angry that her truck driver husband was often away, DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin 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," Berlin said.
Plackowska told investigators she found Justin and Olivia Dworakowski — whom she was babysitting that night — jumping on the 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 the hearing.
"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 the woman’s care before. Plackowska also stabbed the two family dogs.
Walls in the home were spattered in blood. Olivia’s body was found on the bed, and Justin’s was found on the floor beside it. He was covered in stab wounds, including on his head, face, neck and back.
"In all my years in law enforcement, this is the most gruesome and horrific crime scene that I have seen," Naperville Police Chief Bob Marshall said at the news conference. Naperville is 25 miles west of Chicago.
Investigators found two blood-stained knives; a steak knife in the kitchen sink and another in Plackowska’s car, Berlin said.
After the killings, Plackowska tried to go to a Naperville church but found it closed, so she left a message on its answering machine saying she had done something bad and needed assistance, Berlin said.
Still covered in blood and with scratches on her hands, she went to a friend’s home where her other, adult son was staying and told them that she had been robbed, Berlin said.
Around the same time, Olivia’s mother, Marta Dworakowski, returned home to discover her door locked and the babysitter’s car gone. She called police saying her daughter was missing.
Police forced their way into the home and took Plackowska into custody. Prosecutors charged her with first-degree murder late Wednesday.
Plackowska initially told investigators that a stalker had broken into the home where Olivia lived with her mother, and that it was the stalker who killed the children. She later said the children were evil and that she was fighting the devil in the house, Berlin said.
When police confronted her about the inconsistencies during hours of questioning, Plackowska admitted that she lashed out because she was angry with her husband, because he often left her alone to care for Justin and work as a maid, which she felt was beneath her, Berlin said.
In a brief telephone interview, Plackowska’s husband, Artur, denied the two were having problems.
"The day before (the killings) she told me that she loves me," he said in heavily accented and halting English.
However, a neighbor said he frequently heard the couple shouting at each other over the last five years.
"It happened once every other month," said Victor Tuckenberry. "It was nothing physical."
Tuckenberry said he was shocked by the slayings and that Plackowska doted on her sons. He said she and Justin "were together all the time."
Marshall, the police chief, said officers had never been called to the couple’s house.
He said several of his officers knew Olivia, having helped locate her in August when she went to the wrong kindergarten class on the first day of school.
The officers told him "she was such a sweet and loving little girl," Marshall said.
Plackowska arrived in the United States from her native Poland on a tourist visa 12 years ago, said Berlin. She is not a U.S. citizen and authorities were trying to verify her immigration status. Berlin said she has no prior history of violence, although she had a misdemeanor DUI from about 10 years ago.
DuPage County Judge John Kinsella ordered Plackowska held without bond. Plackowska didn’t speak during the hearing other than to indicate she could not afford an attorney. The judge appointed a public defender.
Babwin reported from Chicago. AP News Researcher Jennifer Farrar contributed to this report from New York.