NEW LEMAK EVIDENCE SURFACES
NAPERVILLE POLICE FIND CONCEALED PILL BOTTLEBy Jeff Coen, Tribune Staff Writer.
Tribune staff writer Janan Hanna contributed to this report.
August 24, 1999 Chicago Tribune
Naperville police have discovered new evidence in the March slayings of the three Lemak children, sources close to the investigation said Monday.
Earlier this month, detectives found a pill bottle hidden behind an intercom box in the wall of a second-floor bathroom, according to one investigator who asked not to be named. Investigators believe the bottle can be linked to the drugging and suffocation of Nicholas, Emily and Thomas Lemak. Their mother, Marilyn, is awaiting trial on murder charges.
Police and prosecutors say Marilyn Lemak drugged the children with a mixture of aspirin, the anti-depressant Zoloft and the tranquilizer Ativan before smothering them March 4. The children's bodies were found the next day after Lemak called 911, following what authorities said was a botched suicide attempt.
The sources said they believe that the newly recovered bottle contained Ativan. The bottle was not the only drug container recovered in the probe, but authorities said it was the only one to be concealed.
Any concealment of evidence could become an issue as prosecutors and defense attorneys spar over Marilyn Lemak's mental state at the time of the killings. Her attorney, John Donahue, has indicated that he will argue that Lemak was insane at the time her children were killed.
Lemak is scheduled to appear Wednesday in DuPage County Circuit Court for a status hearing.
According to the source, police discovered the bottle after being called to the house by David Lemak, Marilyn Lemak's estranged husband, who said Marilyn Lemak's parents had indicated that she had hidden cash in the home on South Loomis Street.
Police recovered about $8,000 in addition to the bottle, sources said, but added that they do not believe the cash has any bearing on the case.
Donahue declined to comment on the discovery of the bottle on Monday, as did DuPage State's Atty. Joseph Birkett.
"We'll try our case in court," Birkett said.
In other developments, investigators said they are looking into whether Lemak communicated with anyone in an Internet chat group on the day of the slayings.
The discovery of the pill bottle is an addition to a list of physical evidence recovered from the Lemak residence in the days following the deaths of the three children.
Police arriving at the Lemak residence March 5 found a wedding dress on the floor of an upstairs bathroom, as well as a wedding photograph of Lemak and her husband with an X-acto knife jammed through his image.
Police also discovered a bloody path from room to room on the second floor, investigators have confirmed. Authorities said Lemak, a nurse, tried to kill herself with the same medication she gave her children and then slashed her arm when her attempt to overdose failed.
Though Lemak's defense attorneys have downplayed the role the couple's deteriorating marriage might have had in the crime, investigators have said Lemak blamed her relationship with her husband for her actions.
"She said she didn't want her husband to be burdened with her and the kids, since they were no longer No. 1 on his priority list," said one Naperville detective who was present during her questioning.
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