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Grandmother accused of killing infant with sledgehammer and knife

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Updated: October 7, 2013 11:54PM

The murder was so horrific — a grandmother allegedly taking a sledgehammer and carving knife to her infant granddaughter — it shocked residents and police alike in southwest suburban Oak Lawn.

Six-month-old Vivian Summers was beaten with a sledgehammer by her grandmother, who also slit the baby’s throat with a knife while watching the baby at the woman’s home Sunday morning, authorities said.

Alfreda Giedrojc, 61, of the 6600 block of 91st Street, was charged with first-degree murder and was being held without bail at Cook County Jail.

The baby’s father, Joe Summers, of Bolingbrook, brought her to her grandparents’ house so Giedrojc could watch her while he helped his brother-in-law with a repair project at his house across the street from where Giedrojc and her husband lived, Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Deno said at a bond hearing Monday.

Giedrojc’s husband, Boleslaw, soon went across to his son’s home to check on the project, leaving her alone with the Vivian, Deno said. Alfreda Giedrojc took the sleeping infant off a couch, placed her on the floor and got a sledgehammer that she had placed in a closet the night before, he said.

Alfreda Giedrojc repeatedly struck the baby with the sledgehammer, and because the baby “was still crying and moving, the defendant then went to the kitchen and retrieved a large carving knife,” using it to slit the infant’s throat, according to the prosecutor.

Alfreda Giedrojc had admitted to the murder in a videotaped statement, Deno told the judge at the hearing in suburban Bridgeview. He and police did not speculate about her motive but did say she does not have any previous arrests.

Assistant Public Defender Tom Stovall told the judge that Alfreda Giedrojc, who turns 62 Wednesday, came to America from her native Poland in 1983 and has an eighth-grade education. She and her husband, who is retired, raised four children and have lived in Oak Lawn for 20 years, he said.

Because the victim is under 12 and because of the “heinous” nature of the crime, Deno urged Circuit Court Judge Kerry Kennedy to deny bail for Alfreda Giedrojc, and Kennedy agreed. Her next court hearing is set for Oct. 28 in Bridgeview.

Oak Lawn Police Chief Michael Murray said police got a 911 call from Giedrojc’s house at 10:46 a.m. Sunday. He said Boleslaw Giedrojc returned home from their son’s house, saw what happened and called the police.

It was the first murder in three years in Oak Lawn — and a crime scene unlike anything the police chief had seen in his 26-year career.

“It’s a tragedy,” Murray said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. This is going to be a very difficult time for everyone, including our officers and the people who responded to the scene.”

Caren and Ed Hennessy and their daughter, Carrie Lynn, live next door to the Giedrojcs.

“They watched the grandkids pretty often,” Caren Hennessy said, adding that she thought they had three or four grandchildren but wasn’t sure.

When the weather was nice, it was mainly Boleslaw Giedrojc who would be outside with the grandchildren, and he built a gate along the driveway so they wouldn’t dash out onto busy 91st Street, she said.

The couple were not well-versed in English, but Boleslaw Giedrojc was always friendly with his neighbors, Carrie Hennessy said.

“Every single time you see him, it’s ‘Hi, how are you,’ ” she said.

Caren Hennessy said Alfreda Giedrojc “was friendly and everything, but we hadn’t seen too much of her lately.”

Caren Hennessy said the family was stunned to learn of the baby’s death.

“It’s tragic. Something like this just wants to make you hug them tighter,” she said of her own grandchildren.

She said four of them were at her house on Sunday, curious about all the police and the yellow crime-scene tape that partly cut off their yard.

“They [grandkids] want to know what’s going on,” Caren Hennessy said. “This sort of thing is a little harder to explain. . . . Someone who can do that to a child isn’t in their right mind. They’ve lost two members of their family — a granddaughter and his [Boleslaw Giedrojc’s] wife.”

In Bolingbrook, some neighbors said Monday that they were not close to Joe or Amy Summers but described the couple as polite and friendly. One woman said Amy Summers had been “very excited” at becoming a mother and she thought that Amy Summer’s mother had visited their house to help out shortly after the birth.

Contributing: Mike Nolan, Brian Stanley

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