More questions than answers

  • Written by Bob Rakow


Couple that discovered Brittany’s body shares horrific details with family

 When Adam Wilczek approachedBrit picAgnes Smyk and Adam Wilczek, left photo, share graphic details with Mike and Rebecca Tully, right photo, about discovering the body of Rebecca’s daughter, Brittany Wawrzyniak, during an emotional meeting Saturday. Photos by Bob Rakow. Brittany Wawrzyniak’s body the night of Nov. 8, he feared that the 18-year-old Worth girl was dead. “I put my hand on her chest. I didn’t feel it moving up and down. I couldn’t feel a heartbeat,” Wilczek said. “When I lifted her head, that’s when I saw a pool of blood.” Wilczek’s girlfriend, Agnes Smyk, approached Wawrzyniak’s body moments later and also worried that Wawrzyniak was dead. “I got nervous. I didn’t know what to do. I panicked a little. When I leaned over to touch her, she was so cold and so stiff,” said Smyk, who works as a medical assistant. “A body doesn’t get that cold or that stiff immediately after passing away. There was a massive pool of blood behind her head.” Wilczek and Smyk, of Burbank, shared those horrific details Saturday morning with Wawrzyniak’s mother, Rebecca Tully, at an emotional meeting also attended by several other family members. The two-hour gathering was held at the Hickory Hills -- home of Wawrzyniak’s grandparents. This was the first time Tully met the couple who stayed with her daughter in the parking lot of the Worth boat launch the night that she died. The get-together ran the gamut of emotions from sorrow over Wawrzyniak’s death to anger at the Worth police for failing to investigate in a more aggressive fashion. The Worth police last week confirmed that there were no drugs in Wawrzyniak’s system the night that she was died, the family said. But Tully remains critical of the way the police have handled the case. “I had to question them. They didn’t offer that information,” Tully said. “They didn’t even tell me the cause of death.” The Worth police have declined comment throughout the investigation. Smyk said she wants to do everything possible to help Tully get justice for her daughter. “I just want to be helpful and get justice for her as much as possible because a police department that’s supposed to serve and protect is not doing that and causing her more pain and grief. I’m willing to help with anything,” Smyk said. She added the images of that fateful night have remained with her. “You don’t forget something like this. I relive this and dream about it almost every night,” she said. “I wish I would have done more. I wish I would have recorded it. I posted on Brittany’s site on Facebook because I wanted to let it known that I was there and what I saw. I was so stunned that there was no contact from the cops. No one was asking us anything.” But Tully and her husband, Mike, are grateful for the information Wilczek and Smyk have provided. “This is more answers that I’ve (ever) gotten about that moment,” Rebecca Tully said. Wilczek and Smyk arrived at the boat launch at about 8 p.m. to walk their dogs. The Burbank couple is familiar with the area because Wilczek owns a boat, he said. The couple spotted a group of teenage girls in the parking lot that appeared to be looking for something on the ground, Wilczek said. A teenage boy approached their car and “starts feeding me a story,” Wilczek said. Only one of the seven girls in the parking lot was kneeling next to Wawrzyniak. “She was more in a panic, like ‘Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God,’” Smyk said. The other girls on the scene did not appear shaken by the tragedy. “There was no sign or remorse,” Smyk said. “There was nobody crying.” “I was holding her hand,” said Wilczek, who knelt at Wawrzyniak’s side for about three minutes until police and paramedics arrived, he said. The information the Burbank couple offered Wawrzyniak’s family answers some questions but raises many others. For example, how long was Wawrzyniak’s lying in the boat launch parking lot before Wilczek and Smyk arrived and exactly how did she sustain the injuries that led to her death? And, if the couple had not arrived, how long would she have remained in the parking lot before someone called 911? Finally, why have the Worth police never interviewed Wilczek and Smyk? Wawrzyniak’s family believes she faked a drug buy at the boat launch to arrange a fight between a friend and another girl. “From what we understand, she walked up to the car and said, ‘come out’ and they said, ‘no, you get in,’ and I think she didn’t know what to do,” Tully said. She added that her daughter “was willing to do anything” so that people would like her. Prosecutors have said Wawrzyniak, 18, died after she was ejected from the backseat of an alleged drug dealer’s car after buying pills from him. They said she met Eric Steven Johnson at the boat launch near 115th Street and Beloit Avenue, got into the backseat of his car and handed him $200 in exchange for 30 pills of Clonazepam. The prescription drug is used to treat panic and seizure disorders, according to medical experts. Wawrzyniak began counting the pills while still in the backseat as Johnson drove away. She opened the door of the moving car, was ejected and struck the pavement, prosecutors said. She was pronounced dead at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn less than one hour later. But some of the facts don’t add up for Wilczek. “You would think someone coming out of a warm car would be a warmer to the touch,” Wilczek added. “She didn’t have her jacket on at the time, which, now that I think about it, struck me as odd.” And, Smyk said there was nothing in Wawrzyniak’s hands when she approached the girl. Worth police, however, told Tully that her daughter had pills in her hands when they arrived, she said. “I promise you 100 percent that there were no pills in her hands,” Smyk said. Johnson, of Peotone, was ordered held on $300,000 bond. He is charged with unlawful delivery of a controlled substance.


Chicago man said he was not aggressor but charged anyway

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  A Chicago man was charged with assault and disorderly conduct last Wednesday following a disturbance at an Oak Lawn gas station, police said.
  Joel Sepulveda, 32, allegedly threatened a 42-year-old Oak Lawn man at Thornton’s gas station, 9138 S. Cicero Ave., according to reports. A witness told police the incident occurred at 6:30 p.m. when Sepulveda produced a knife and yelled racial slurs at the victim during a disturbance at the station, according to reports.
  The victim was not at the station when police arrived. He later told police he left because he feared Sepulveda would follow him home. He added that he did not see a knife, police said.
  Sepulveda told police that he was not the aggressor. Rather, he said, the victim yelled racial slurs at him. He denied producing a knife during the argument.

Wounded knee worse after tussle in Ridge

  • Written by Bob Rakow

An Oak Lawn man was charged with battery Feb. 16 after allegedly throwing a man to the ground outside a Chicago Ridge bar, police said.
  George J. Weinant, 56, was charged three days after the incident occurred at Rick’s Tap, 10553 S. Southwest Highway, according to reports.
  The victim, a 57-year-old Oak Lawn man, told police that he arrived at the tavern with his girlfriend at 7 p.m. Weinant walked to the passenger side of the car and initiated a conversation with the woman. The woman knows Weinant and dated him briefly several years ago, she told police.
  The victim and his girlfriend then got out of the car to enter the bar. Weinant allegedly became impatient while walking behind the victim, who was walking slowly because he had a bad knee, he said.
  At that point, Weinant grabbed him from behind, picked him up and threw him to the ground, causing him to land on his bad knee. Weinant stood over the victim until two male bystanders intervened and separated the two men, police said. Weinant left and the victim and his girlfriend drove home, according to reports.
  The victim told police he did not immediately call 911 because he did not believe he was seriously injured. But he experienced swelling and serious pain the following day and was later treated for a contusion, he said.
  Weinant told police a different story. He said he was walking behind the victim, who told him, “I have a bad knee, walk around me.” He agreed but the victim turned around and swung at him. He said he backed away to avoid being hit. He then grabbed the victim from behind and gently placed him on the ground, he told police.

Can it — suspect tries to hide heroin

  • Written by Bob Rakow

 A man who attempted to hide heroin in the garbage can of a Hickory Hills motel was charged Saturday with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, police said.
  Ron Verback, 31, of Evergreen Park, also was charged with possession of marijuana following his arrest at the Hickory West Motel, 8600 W. 95th St., according to reports.
  Police arrived at the motel at 9:18 a.m. and saw a car enter the rear lot. A man, who was later identified as Verback, met another man who had exited the motel, police said.
  The two men noticed police, causing Verback to drive to the front of the motel followed by police. He parked his car and entered the lobby of the motel. When he left the motel for the second time, he approached police and told them he was inquiring about room rates, reports said.
  He said he possessed nothing illegal and told police they could search him and his car. Before the search began, Verback admitted that there was marijuana in the center console of the car. Police found the marijuana but no other contraband, they said.
  At that point, a motel clerk got the attention of police. She told officers that the Verback put something into the lobby garbage can. Police subsequently found a plastic baggy containing 24 tin foil packets of heroin at the bottom of the can, reports said.
  Verback admitted during his initial conversation with police that he was a recovering heroin addict and was in possession of legally prescribed dose of a methadone, police said.

Thief steals money but leaves advice

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  An Oak Lawn resident caught a break and received some good advice Feb. 19 from the individual who burglarized his pickup truck, police said.
  The truck owner told police that $40 was stolen his wallet and $5 was taken from the center console of the truck, which was parked in the 4900 block of Wick Drive.
  But the victim found his debit card on the truck’s dashboard next to a note that read: “Lock your doors. Lucky I’m not a [expletive].”
  The note included an arrow pointing to the debit card, according to reports. A half-smoked cigarette also was found in the truck.
— Bob Rakow