WEST RIDGE — A tenant of a West Ridge boarding house killed her landlord and dismembered her body two days after getting an eviction notice, police said.
Sandra Kolalou, 36, was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder and concealing a homicide in the killing of Frances Walker, a 69-year-old woman who played piano at the Evanston School of Ballet, police said.
Walker was killed Monday, Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said. Walker had served Kolalou with an eviction notice “as recently as Saturday,” Deenihan said at a news conference.
Kolalou killed Walker, dismembered her, put her body in a freezer and tried to dispose of evidence at a Rogers Park beach, police said.
Kolalou also pulled a knife on a tow truck driver she called to take her to the beach, authorities said. Kolalou was charged with aggravated assault for that incident, police said.
Police were able to arrest Kolalou thanks to Walker’s other tenants, who heard screaming, called police and followed Kolalou as she tried to hide evidence, Deenihan said. The neighbors played a crucial part in the investigation, leading officers to find Walker’s remains inside a freezer in the home, as well as bloodied towels in a trash can at the beach, Deenihan said.
“I truly want to thank those tenants for their tenacity on realizing that something is definitely wrong, which led to the arrest,” Deenihan said.
Kolalou was renting a room in Walker’s white, wood-frame home in the 5900 block of North Washtenaw Avenue, police said.
The home is divided into units in the basement and the first and second floors, each with its own locked entrance, Deenihan said. Walker and Kolalou lived in units on the first floor, Deenihan said.
About 2:30 a.m. Monday, Walker’s other tenants, who feared Kolalou, heard screaming inside the building and called and texted Walker to see if she was OK, Deenihan said.
“There had been arguments before with [Kolalou] and other people in the residence,” Deenihan said. “The tenants immediately in the morning, started to … try to figure out what was wrong.”
The tenants could not reach Walker, but they received texts sent from her phone, Deenihan said.
“It appears, from what we know now, that [Kolalou] was sending texts from the victim’s phone and not answering it,” Deenihan said.
Still unable to reach Walker, the tenants called police Monday night to ask for a wellbeing check, Deenihan said.
Kolalou was still at the house when officers arrived to speak to the other tenants about Walker’s disappearance, Deenihan said. Kolalou declined to speak to police and left the home in a tow truck she hired using Walker’s credit card, Deenihan said. She asked the tow truck driver to take her to Foster Beach to tow her car, Deenihan said.
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Walker also carried a “heavy bag” out to the tow truck before it left, Deenihan previously said.
Walker’s other tenants exchanged contact information with the tow truck driver and told him they thought Kolalou was dangerous, Deenihan said.
“The tenants were afraid for the tow truck driver, as well,” Deenihan said.
Some of those tenants followed the tow truck to Foster Beach. Thedriver told the tenants that when he got to Foster Beach, the woman who hired him put a large bag in a garbage can, Deenihan said.
The tenants found bloody rags in a garbage can there and notified police, Deenihan said. More officers responded to Foster Beach while officers were on the scene at the Washtenaw Avenue home, Deenihan said.
The garbage can’s contents were taken to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, Deenihan said.
Initially, police didn’t find any signs of “blood or foul play” at the West Ridge home, Deenihan said. But after the tenants told police about the bloody rags they found in the Foster Beach garbage can, officers and tenants searched Kolalou’s West Ridge apartment again, Deenihan said.
“They were able to find some additional blood inside the tenant’s room, at which point they discovered the gruesome remains in a freezer,” Deenihan said.
Kolalou was still with the tow truck driver, whom she threatened with a knife around the same time police discovered Walker’s remains, Deenihan said.
“Due to the communication between the tow truck driver and the tenants, officers were able to get to that scene immediately and place the defendant in custody” for threatening the driver, Deenihan said.
Police found additional blood inside Walker’s bedroom and think that’s where she was killed, Deenihan said.
Detectives think Walker was dismembered on the first floor of her home, Deenihan said. Detectives found blood on knives inside the home, Deenihan said.
Kolalou did not make any statements to police, Deenihan said. She is scheduled to appear in Cook County bond court Thursday.