Alex Spourdalakis mom, godmother take 5th in court

Left to right: Dorothy Spourdalakis and Jolanta Agatha Skrodzka
June 19, 2013 3:14:52 PM PDT
The mother and caregiver of a teenager with autism who was found stabbed to death took the fifth in court Wednesday.

Although Dorothy Spourdalakis and Jolanta Agatha Skrodzka exercised their right to remain silent, they are charged with first-degree murder in the death of 14-year-old Alex Spourdalakis.

Prosecutors contend the women plotted for a week to kill the teen because they claimed his condition was worsening. The women are due back in court July 3.

On June 9, police say they found Alex stabbed to death in bed. Authorities say they were called to the second-floor apartment above a plumbing company to conduct a well-being check after the boy's father and uncle failed to get in touch with him or his mother.

Prosecutors say they believe the constant care may have been too much for the women, who served as 24/7 caregivers for the teen.

"Their initial plan was to give him an overdose of drugs so he would die. The defendants took turns in the evening to check the victim's breathing and pulse. After several hours, Dorothy Spourdalakis took a knife from the kitchen, went to the victim's bedroom and stabbed him four times in the chest," said Brittney Burns, assistant Cook County state's attorney. Burns said the mother also slit the teen's wrist.

Both caretakers were found at the teen's side, alive but unconcious. Authorities say they also found a three-page letter describing the ordeal of caring for a severely autistic - and sometimes violent - teenager.

Prosecutors said the women made confessions to police. Officials say the women were on suicide watch last week at the police station. The weapon, which had been missing, was found, wiped clean, inside the home.

"They cleaned the knife, they put the knife back in the butcher block and took the pills and laid down in bed next to him," said River Grove Police Chief Rodger Loni.

Those who know the family say it is a tragic end to a long and desperate search for help. A video from the Autism Media Channel on YouTube shows Alex in February during one of many hospitalizations. His mother can be seen tenderly washing Alex's feet.

"Dorothy, the mother, had absolutely nowhere to go, nowhere to live. With this boy, she would go from motel to motel," said Polly Tommey, Autism Media Channel.

Tommey and her Autism Media Channel worked with Dorothy Spourdalakis - recording the public pleas for help.

"He needs something simple, in the country, where he can run around, get the treatment that he needs so he can get better," said Dorothy Spourdalakis, Alex's mother, in the YouTube video.

"She was crying and so was the godmother. They were both in a terrible state - that's why we did that plea in the hospital for help," said Tommey.

They say the help never came. However, a Department of Children and Family Services spokesperson says that Dorothy Spourdalakis was offered services, but she refused.

"According to the defendant, the victim's emotional condition had deteriorated after his most recent prolonged illness. She discussed her plan to kill Alex with defendant Skrodzka, who agreed with her opinions and agreed to assist her in carrying out the murder," Burns said.

Alex had a severe form of autism, made worse by gastrointestinal issues, that could send him into violent rages. He couldn't speak and was frequently tied to a bed during hospital stays.

The women also allegedly killed their cat for fear he would be sent to a shelter. In court June 12, the two wore hospital scrubs, no shoes and moved slowly. In a February video, Skrodzka can be seen with a black eye. The person who recorded it said it was caused by Alex.

DCFS says it responded to a report of neglect against Alex's mother in January but its investigators concluded it was unfounded.


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