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Woman charged with murdering, dismembering landlord in Arcadia Terrace neighborhood home

Woman charged with murdering, dismembering landlord in Arcadia Terrace
Woman charged with murdering, dismembering landlord in Arcadia Terrace 02:44

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A woman has been charged with murdering her landlord who was found dismembered in an Arcadia Terrace home.

As CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported Wednesday night, Sandra Kolalou, 36, is charged with the murder of 69-year-old Frances Walker in the house at 5919 N. Washtenaw Ave.

Kolalou is expected in bond court Thursday. 

Woman charged with murdering, dismembering landlord expected in court Thursday 02:06

Kolalou currently refuses to speak to detectives. Yet despite invoking her Fifth Amendment rights, Chicago Police are piecing together what they can about the disturbing crime – and how they believe the gruesome murder played out.

Walker was known by most of the people on her block between Thorndale and Peterson avenues. Some were friendly with her dogs, while she welcomed others into the neighborhood.

After she was brutally murdered, investigators in hazmat suits were at her house uncovering forensic evidence. Late Wednesday, the crime scene tape was gone, but flowers and a candle memorializing Walker had been placed on the stairs – flanked by Halloween decorations that were there when the house became a crime scene.

Frances Walker Family Photo

Around 6 or 7 p.m. Monday, police were called for a missing person at the Washtenaw Avenue house, according to Chicago Police Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenhian. At the scene, tenants in the house told responding officers they had not seen Walker in a day and were concerned for their safety.

Many of the tenants also said they were afraid of Kolalou, Deenihan said. They also said they had heard screams in the house around 2:30 a.m. Monday.

In court on Thursday, prosecutors said Walker had posted an eviction notice on Kolalou's door last Sunday. This was two days after Walker received complaints from other tenants about Kalalou.

The tenants had suspected something serious had happened right below them at that point.

"They immediately started texting the victim, saying, 'Are you okay?'" Deenihan said.

Police said Kolalou replied to the text messages, conveying the impression that Walker was still alive.

But the tenants still called police.

When officers arrived at the scene, Kolalou was still there – but was about to get in a tow truck and leave, Deenihan said. Kolalou had used the victim's credit card for the tow truck, Deenihan said.

Officers tried talking to Kolalou, but she got into the tow truck and left, Deenihan said.

"The defendant said she knew her rights, didn't want to talk to police," he said.

Police announce charges in landlord's murder, dismemberment 10:57

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey spoke to the tow truck driver off camera who said his company was called to pick up a Chevy Equinox from the Washtenaw Avenue address and the owner of the vehicle, who is the suspect, got a ride in his back seat. He said the suspect was behaving strangely.

The tow truck driver took Kolalou to Foster Beach – where police said she dumped a large plastic bag in a garbage can. The two truck driver was unaware that police would go on to find human remains in the bag.

By then, the other tenants had already contacted the tow truck driver to report that Kolalou was dangerous, Deenihan said. The tenants followed the tow truck to Foster Beach and found bloody rags in the garbage can, he said.

The tow truck driver had then taken Kolalou to a mechanic shop, according to prosecutors.

Meanwhile, police were still at the Washtenaw Avenue house where when all this was happening, Deenihan said.

Initially, police could not find any sign of blood or foul play at the house. But after learning of the Foster Beach discovery, they went in with the tenants and found additional blood in Kolalou's room, Deenihan said.

They then found Walker's gruesome remains in a freezer. The tow truck driver said detectives told him that a human head was found in the freezer. 

After learning about the discovery, the tow truck driver attempted to stall Kolalou until police could arrive at the shop, but they did not arrest her. The tow truck driver then drove Kolalou to the area of Western and Estes to park her car. She insisted the driver take her somewhere else. When he declined, Kolalou became upset and pulled a knife on him.

The driver yelled to police who were in the area.

Kolalou was arrested in the 7000 block of North Western Avenue in West Rogers Park, where she was found in the tow truck. She is also charged with the aggravated assault of the 24-year-old tow truck driver.

Based on the totality of the evidence, police believe the murder happened in Kolalou's bedroom and the dismemberment took place on the first floor of the Washtenaw Avenue house, Deenihan said. It appears possibly that large butcher knives could have been used to dismember Walker, Deenihan said.

Although Kolalou isn't talking to detectives, Deenihan said they have some idea of what may have sparked the crime. Police said Walker had served Kolalou with notice to leave, or an eviction notice.

There had been previous 911 calls to the house, and some of them may have been because tenants were afraid of Kolalou, Deenihan said.

Kolalou is charged with one felony count each of first-degree murder and concealing a homicidal death, and one misdemeanor count of aggravated assault with the use of a deadly weapon.

Frances Walker Supplied to CBS 2

Meanwhile Wednesday night, Frances Walker's brother, Arnold, returned to the Arcadia Terrace home where his sister was brutally murdered and dismembered. He spoke with CBS 2's Charlie De Mar.

"She didn't have any enemies," Arnold Walker said. "This is an exceptional circumstance. You're talking about good and evil there."

"I can't imagine a person who would kill another person like that," added Frances' sister-in-law, Maggie Walker.

Frances Walker was remembered as generous and trusting of all.

"She was generous with her time. She helped the younger generation," brother Arnold said. "She didn't have children of her own, but wonderful with kids."

Frances rented rooms in her home on Washtenaw Avenue, and her family said they were unaware of any issues with Kolalou.

"We knew nothing about her," said Arnold. "We didn't know she existed."

"We learned from one of the other tenants that my sister-in-law was in the process of eviction," said Maggie.

Family shocked at murder, dismemberment of 69-year-old Arcadia Terrace woman 02:34

As a retiree, Frances played organ at several churches - including the Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Lincoln Square. She had also played piano since 1978at the Evanston School of Ballet, located on Central Street in Evanston.

"We're going to miss her terribly in so many ways," said Evanston School of Ballet owner Kerry Hubata.

Frances rarely missed a weekend on the keys.

"In fact, last Saturday morning, she said, 'I just love being here.' I said, 'Well, we love having you,'" Hubata said. "It's just so difficult to reconcile the fact that someone so kind and sweet and gentle could meet an end like this. It's not fair for anyone - let alone Fran."

Frances' brother told us her dog was also killed in all of this.

Funeral arrangements are pending.  

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