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Family of slain girl releases statement: 5-year-old was loving, happy

Tuesday for funeral services 7-year-old JustPlackowskSt. Elizabeth SetChurch Naperville.
Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

Tuesday for funeral services of 7-year-old Justin Plackowska at St. Elizabeth Seton Church in Naperville. Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 8, 2012 6:33AM



The family members of 5-year-old Olivia Dworakowski, slain last week in her Naperville home, along with 7-year-old Justin Plackowska, have released their first statement concerning the deaths.

Police have charged the 7-year-old’s mother, Elzbieta Plackowska, who was babysitting Olivia, in the slayings.

The statement reads: “We are deeply saddened and shocked by the shortened life of our sweet little girl, Olivia. It is impossible for us to express in words the sadness we feel over this senseless killing. We can, however, express our gratitude for the support from our community, our church, Olivia’s school and others. We also wish to extend our condolences and sympathy to the family of Olivia’s friend, Justin Plackowska.

“The love, condolences and prayers we have received from family and friends have helped to comfort us during this difficult and terrible time. Too, the kind words we have heard both directly and through the news media about how Olivia was a source of happiness for her friends and classmates have made us proud. Olivia was a loving, playful and happy daughter. She brought great joy to our lives and to the lives of her friends and family. She was caring and charitable and filled with all of the incredible potential of a five year old. Although her life was taken too soon, we are consoled by our belief that the gates of heaven have opened up and received one of God’s precious children.

“We thank the members of the Naperville Police Department for their hard work investigating this terrible tragedy and for their ongoing support. We have every confidence and trust in them and in the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office and the DuPage County judicial system. At this time, we ask for privacy to grieve for the loss of Olivia.

The statement notes that a private memorial service for Olivia has been arranged. People can donate to the Olivia Dworakowski Memorial Fund at P.O. Box 294, Naperville, Ill. 60566.

Earlier Tuesday morning, the gray and gloomy skies that covered Naperville seemed to echo the sentiments of those who came to St. Elizabeth Seton Church Tuesday morning to attend the funeral of 7-year-old Justin Plackowska, who was stabbed to death last week.

The crime has left those living near the church shocked, puzzled, and angry.

“I live two blocks away from St. Elizabeth Church, and this is a story about a mother who went over the edge,” said Ed King. “I’m not stunned about this as much as I am angry.”

Cars slowly filled the front and back ends of the church’s parking lots Tuesday while police in both squad and unmarked cars patrolled the outer perimeter in order to keep press and TV cameras hundreds of feet away from the church’s entrance.

Choir member Palma Aikins of Naperville arrived about 9:10 a.m. for the service and said she and other choir members were going to have one last rehearsal before the service.

“My children are older than Justin, but they went to the same school as he did,” Aikins said. “For me, talking about a tragedy like this is something that is beyond words. I feel so bad for the children here in the community who just have no way of understanding how something like this could happen. Children shouldn’t have to live through something like this.”

Aikins said support by the church’s choir was huge Tuesday, with far more members than usual volunteering to sing.

“We usually have something like eight to 10 people in the choir for a funeral, and I haven’t checked the list, but I think there is going to be something like 40 or 50 of us here today,” she said before entering the church.

Cars with multiple passengers dressed in black began arriving steadily after 9:30 a.m. and virtually all who were approached were unwilling to talk about the funeral or their feelings leading up to it.

One woman, however, Bozena Koziel of Homer Glen, said she knew the Plackowska family.

“My husband knows the father of the boy who was killed,” Koziel admitted, adding that she spoke very little English. “We were shocked to hear about this happening, and it’s very hard for me to be at something like this today.”

Another neighbor who lives in the area near St. Elizabeth but refused to give her name likewise spoke about Justin’s mother and noted “she just wasn’t herself.”

She added that Naperville will recover, but it will take time.

“I’ve lived here in the neighborhood for 21 years, and we’ve had tragedies here before,” she said. “(We) have stuck together when terrible things have happened and we’ve always been able to get through them.”

Some said that despite the tragedy, they feel that Naperville remains a very safe community.

“I feel bad for the students at Scott Elementary School, but I don’t think this event is going to make us feel unsafe here in Naperville,” King said. “The police and the fire departments do a good job. I read the crime reports in the paper, and I’m not sure any community is completely safe anymore, but this was something out of left field. We’re still as safe here as we can be.”



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