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Mokena woman pleads guilty to stabbing mom to death

Gaye E. Wern  |  Phocourtesy Will County Sheriff's office

Gaye E. Wern | Photo courtesy of Will County Sheriff's office

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A mentally ill southwest suburban woman pleaded guilty Thursday to the fatal stabbing of her elderly mother.

Gaye Wern, 61, of Mokena, faces up to 20 years in prison when she is sentenced July 30.

She stabbed to death her mother, Tresa McCauley, 89, on Feb. 15, 2010, in McCauley’s condo in the 19500 block of 116th Avenue. Hours later, she went to the Mokena police station to confess the killing.

Police found McCauley’s body in a bathtub with multiple stab wounds in her torso.

Wern, who was divorced and had a history of mental illness, had been living with her mother for about six months and had no prior criminal history, officials said at that time.

After pleading guilty Thursday to second-degree murder, Wern was taken into custody. She faces a minimum of four and a maxiumum of 20 years in prison.

“This is a very significant sentence, given her history,” Will County State’s Attorney’s office spokesman Chuck Pelkie said. “It also guarantees she will get the [mental health] help she needs.”

An expert witness for the defense said Wern was legally insane, and experts for the prosecution determined she suffered from mental illness and depression but was not insane and was able to stand trial, Pelkie said.

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