Body found in NW Side freezer ID'd, may be landlord's elderly mother, residents say

Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Body found in NW Side freezer ID'd, hadn't been seen in years
"It started off with a wellness check and it ended with someone being found in the freezer," Regina Michalski's granddaughter said.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The elderly woman whose body was discovered Monday inside a freezer in a home on the Northwest Side has been identified.

The woman's granddaughter identified her as 96-year-old as Regina Michalski.

Sabrina Watson said she was the one who called Chicago police to check on her grandmother, telling them she had a gut feeling something wasn't right.

"It started off with a wellness check and it ended with someone being found in the freezer," Watson said.

No one had seen Michalski in years; not her family, or her next door neighbors.

"The people who live in the basement, they say that her mom died. They knew that she was dead, so when I asked the owner for her mom, she said she was in a nursing home in Wisconsin," said tenant Hector Yanez.

Watson called CPD from her home in Kentucky to check on her grandmother, who she had been estranged from. She lived in an apartment building with Watson's mother in the 5500-block of West Melrose in Chicago's Cragin neighborhood.

"I can't really explain it," Watson said. "Call it intuition, if you will."

"I just want someone to go over there and see if she's alive, and, if she is, if she's OK," she said.

When police performed the wellbeing check, they found her grandmother's body in a freezer.

"I did suspect she was no longer alive and with us. I did not suspect her being found in the conditions he was found, and where she was found," Watson said.

She said her Michalski was a Polish immigrant who survived World War II.

Building residents believe their landlord may have placed the body of her elderly mother in the freezer. They said trash has been piling up for some time, and they had a feeling something wasn't right.

On Monday night, authorities removed a freezer from a garage behind the multi-unit apartment building. A source told ABC7 Chicago the body of a 96-year-old woman was inside. The freezer was in one place residents said they didn't have access to.

Yanez, who lives on the top floor with his family, said police arrested his landlord, who lives on the first floor, after the body was found.

"She didn't wanna open, so they broke the doors to get in, and there's a lot of stuff in the apartment that they could not even walk inside," Yanez said.

Yanez said his landlord had been living in the first-floor unit for years with her elderly mother.

RELATED: No bail for Chicago woman charged with killing landlord found dismembered in freezer

"When I came downstairs, they told me that they were looking for the owner because they got a call from out-of-state saying that there was (an) old lady who probably died, and she never buried her," Yanez said.

Neighbors said they hadn't seen the elderly woman in years, and the building owner was telling residents different stories about the whereabouts of her mother.

He also said no one had access to the garage.

"Nobody, nobody, she used to rent the garage to one of the people in the basement, but after a while she didn't rent them the garage no more," Yanez said.

He said he believed that change happened about three years ago.

CPD are calling the incident a death investigation

ABC7 Chicago cameras were rolling when investigators were seen pulling what appeared to a freezer from the home. So far, they have not said if any foul play was involved.

The deceased woman was not immediately identified as of Tuesday morning.

So far, no one has been charged in the incident.

INTERACTIVE SAFETY TRACKER Track crime and safety in your neighborhood