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Prosecutors: Mother and caregiver planned for week to kill autistic teen

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Updated: July 15, 2013 6:51PM



Convinced that Alex Spourdalakis’ severe autism was growing worse, his mother and caregiver allegedly planned for at least a week to kill the River Grove teenager and themselves.

But the alleged murder plot initially went awry last weekend when the stocky 14-year-old didn’t succumb to an overdose of his prescription medications.

After waiting for several hours, Dorothy Spourdalakis, fatally stabbed her 225-pound son four times with a kitchen knife, then cut his wrist so deeply she nearly severed his hand, Cook County prosecutors said Wednesday.

His caregiver, Jolanta Agata Skrodzka, later stabbed the family cat with the same knife, then washed the utensil and put it back in a butcher’s block, prosecutors said.

Their suicide pact never succeeded: Both women took drug overdoses, then locked themselves in the bedroom with the slain teenager.

They were found semi-conscious inside the second-floor apartment on Sunday afternoon when Alex’s father and uncle came to check on the teen, prosecutors said as the women appeared in court to face first-degree murder charges.

Cook County Judge Thomas Tucker ordered both women held without bail.

Neither spoke during the brief hearing, but they appeared haggard and still wore pale green scrubs after being hospitalized following their overdoses.

Skrodzka, 44, walked unsteadily, wavering as she walked in and out the courtroom.

The teen’s murder followed a string of recent medical problems that saw him repeatedly hospitalized — a situation his 50-year-old mother believed had worsened the autism that already had left him unable to speak and sometimes required him to be physically restrained.

His mother and Skrodzka — who had finished medical school in her native Poland — also allegedly were upset about what they believed was a lack of proper medical care Alex received.

“So they planned to kill the victim in order to end his perceived suffering,” Assistant State’s Attorney Maureen O’Brien said in court.

Dorothy Spourdalakis originally conceived the plan to kill her son, but discussed it with Skrodzka, who allegedly agreed with her assessment of Alex’s condition and agreed to help, O’Brien said.

The women left a letter explaining why they killed Alex and also later gave statements to police admitting their involvement in his death, authorities said.

Skrodzka killed the family’s cat because they feared the pet otherwise would end up in an animal shelter.

Spourdalakis had been featured in several Internet videos earlier this year decrying the quality of medical care her son received and the length of time he had been placed in restraints while hospitalized. Alex also was seen in another video as an autism activist asked for help in finding a setting where the teen could be treated without being restrained.

A local autism activist who had discussed the teen’s condition earlier this year with Dorothy Spourdalakis said she was stunned by the murder charges.

“She seemed to me a caring, loving mother who only wanted what was appropriate for her son. I’m still in shock,” said Mary Kay Betz, executive director of the Autism Society of Illinois.



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