WEST RIDGE — The landlord of a West Ridge boarding house changed some of the locks to protect residents from a tenant who killed and dismembered her three days later, prosecutors said Thursday.
Sandra Kolalou, 36, is charged with first-degree murder and concealing a homicide in the Monday morning killing of Frances Walker, 69.
Cook County Judge Kelly McCarthy ordered Kolalou held without bond during a Thursday hearing where new details of the gruesome attack emerged.
A relative of Walker’s declined comment. Her family launched a Facebook fundraiser hoping to raise $15,000 for her cremation and funeral. The post said Walker, a pianist with the Evanston School of Ballet, “rented out rooms to women in need of an affordable place to live.” She leaves behind a husband and her siblings, the post reads.
Prosecutors laid out a case against Kolalou that showed the conflict leading to the attack began days earlier within the white, wood-frame home in the 5900 block of North Washtenaw Avenue where Walker rented rooms to tenants.
The home was subdivided into five units, each with its own locked entrances, police and prosecutors said. Each floor also had its own kitchen and bathroom, prosecutors said.
Walker lived on the home’s first floor and Kolalou began renting the other unit on that floor in July, police and prosecutors said.
After getting complaints from other tenants about Kolalou, Walker changed the locks on two interior doors Friday to prevent Kolalou from going into the basement unit of another tenant, prosecutors said. Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan previously said other residents had complained about Kolalou and were afraid of her.
Because of the ongoing conflict between Kolalou and the other tenants, Walker posted an eviction notice on Kolalou’s door Sunday, prosecutors said. Walker and Kolalou then argued about the eviction around 11 p.m. Sunday, prosecutors said.
Around 2:30 a.m. Monday, the other tenants heard Walker and Kolalou arguing, as well as loud bangs coming from their floor, prosecutors said.
The tenant who lived in the basement heard Kolalou screaming, what sounded like a dish hitting the floor and Walker’s voice trying to calm down Kolalou, prosecutors said.
An upstairs tenant also heard the argument and texted Walker to see if she was OK but didn’t get a response, prosecutors said.
Between 3:30 and 5:30 a.m. Monday, the basement tenant heard the sound of furniture being moved, “scratching noises” and one person pacing back and forth on the first floor, prosecutors said.
At 6 a.m., the basement tenant got a text from Walker’s phone saying to allow Kolalou to take care of her dog, prosecutors said. Another text from Walker’s phone said to leave their keys with Kolalou if they moved out, prosecutors said.
“Given the issues between the offender and the victim coupled with the eviction notice, the tenants found these texts extremely unusual,” prosecutors said.
As a result, the basement tenant called police around noon Monday, prosecutors said.
An officer who came to the home spoke to Kolalou and the basement tenant and left the area, prosecutors said.
Still unable to reach Walker, another tenant called police around 5:40 p.m. Monday to file a missing person’s report, prosecutors said. When police arrived, officers knocked on Kolalou’s door and windows to ask her to come outside but got no response, prosecutors said. Minutes later, Kolalou called a tow truck to take her to Foster Beach, prosecutors said.
When the tow truck arrived at 6:28 p.m., Kolalou walked towards it holding a black garbage bag, prosecutors said. Officers stopped her and got permission to search Kolalou’s bedroom, prosecutors said.
While police searched Kolalou’s bedroom, a witness outside looked into the black garbage bag Kolalou had been carrying and saw paper, greeting cards and several white tied garbage bags inside, prosecutors said. That person reached inside and felt something heavy, “like sand,” prosecutors said.
While officers searched Kolalou’s room, Walker’s other tenants exchanged contact information with the tow truck driver and told him they thought Kolalou was dangerous, prosecutors said.
Police “found nothing incriminating” when they searched Kolalou’s bedroom and released her, prosecutors said. It is not clear if officers searched the garbage bag. Kolalou then got into the tow truck with the black bag, prosecutors said.
Once they reached Foster Beach, the tow truck driver watched Kolalou put the black bag into a garbage can, prosecutors said. The driver called one of the residents to tell them what he saw, then took Kolalou and her car to a nearby mechanic, prosecutors said.
At that point, three of the witnesses from the home drove to Foster Beach, waited until the tow truck driver and Kolalou pulled away, and inspected the trash can, prosecutors said. There, they found several white garbage bags, which one of the witnesses recognized as the same bags they’d seen inside the black bag at the home earlier, prosecutors said.
Police officers responding to the scene found “paper, greeting cards, pooled blood, and blood-soaked rags inside” the white bags, prosecutors said. Around the same time, a tenant found blood in Walker’s bedroom, near Kolalou’s bedroom and in the home’s common area, prosecutors said.
Police contacted the tow truck driver, who was at a mechanic shop with Kolalou, to warn him about the blood that was found, prosecutors said.
The tow truck driver stalled Kolalou until police arrived, prosecutors said. Officers questioned Kolalou again then let her go, prosecutors said.
Because of the police involvement, the mechanic refused to work on Kolalou’s car so she asked the tow truck driver to take her to Western and Estes avenues so she could park her car, prosecutors said. Kolalou paid the tow truck driver using Walker’s credit card, prosecutors said.
The driver then noticed that Kolalou had a knife with a red handle, prosecutors said. She asked the driver to take her to another location but he refused, prosecutors said.
“[Kolalou] became upset and aggressively removed her hands from her pockets, with a knife with a red handle still in her hand. The driver yelled to the police who were in the area that [Kolalou] had a knife and used a stick to keep her away from him,” prosecutors said.
Police arrived and arrested Kolalou, prosecutors said.
Police searched Walker’s home and found her dismembered remains inside a kitchen freezer, prosecutors said. Some of the remains are still missing, prosecutors said.
Police also found blood in the common area between Walker and Kolalou’s rooms, throughout Walker’s bedroom, in the area leading to Kolalou’s room, the bathroom sink and closet, and on items like two bloody chef’s knives and a Lysol bottle, prosecutors said.
Walker’s cell phone was also found in Kolalou bedroom, prosecutors said.
Chief of Detectives Deenihan previously credited the residents for immediately acting on their instincts to uncover what happened to Walker.
Kolalou did not make any statements to police while she was in custody, 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 previously said.
Kolalou’s public defender defended his client’s innocence and said the evidence presented is “largely circumstantial,” according to the Sun-Times.
Her next court date is Oct. 31.
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