Lemak's 911 call and her chilling admission
'I wanted to be dead too but it didn't work,' she tells dispatcherBy Janan Hanna
Tribune Staff Writer
December 17, 1999
A judge on Thursday officially unsealed the transcript of the anguished 911 emergency call that Marilyn Lemak placed to authorities, telling them she had killed her three children and tried to take her own life but failed.
"My three kids are dead, and I . . . I wanted to be dead too but it didn't work," Lemak told a police dispatcher.
The emergency call will likely figure prominently in the prosecution's murder case against Lemak, which could begin early next year.
Lemak is accused of drugging and then suffocating the children, Nicholas, 7, Emily, 6, and Thomas, 3, on March 4 in the family's Naperville home. She was suffering from depression at the time, according to testimony during pretrial hearings, and was distraught over a then-pending divorce from her husband, David Lemak.
Lemak's defense lawyer plans on waging an insanity defense.
On March 5, Lemak, apparently dazed from an unsuccessful suicide attempt, called for help. At the time, her daughter was dead in Lemak's bed, and her sons were dead in their beds.
Lemak was lying on the floor, clutching a cell phone.
Her call began routinely enough, with a dispatcher answering, "911 where's your emergency?"
"Hi, I'm in Naperville at 28 S. Loomis," Lemak said.
"What's the problem?" asked the dispatcher, who then heard Lemak's shocking admission that she had killed her children and attempted suicide.
Dispatcher: "Okay, what happened, can you tell me? What's your name?"
"Lynn," Lemak said. "Can you send someone?"
Dispatcher: "Yea I'm going to. Can you tell me how?"
"I did it," Lemak said.
Lemak was crying, at times uncontrollably, as she talked with the dispatcher while waiting for help to arrive, according to a recording of the call that was played in court during a pretrial hearing two months ago. She begged repeatedly for someone to come help her.
And although she sounded fairly lucid through her tears, she sometimes digressed onto seemingly trivial matters. At one point, she asked the dispatcher to make sure authorities did not let the cat out of her house when they arrived.
"Please send someone, and they'll have to break the door open I can't get down there. I'm so dizzy," Lemak said.
Dispatcher: "Okay. You're on a cell phone. What's your number?"
"Um, I don't even know it," Lemak said.
Dispatcher: "What's your last name?"
"Lemak," she replied. "(inaudible) is someone coming?"
Dispatcher: "Yea, yea they are coming. How did you do this, what happened?"
"My husband didn't want us anymore. You'll have to break the door. Okay?"
Lemak and her husband were in divorce proceedings at the time the children were killed. Two weeks prior to the killings, David Lemak, a physician, moved out of the couple's Victorian home and had begun dating, according to testimony at a pretrial hearing in October.
Marilyn Lemak's doctor, Robert Hubbard, testified in October that although Lemak had been taking medication for depression, she reported to him that she was feeling better a few days before the killings.
But in a conversation with Hubbard at the hospital where she was treated for self-inflicted wrist wounds after the killings, Marilyn Lemak told Hubbard that she had seen her husband with his new girlfriend the day before the killings. It was then that she said she realized "she and her children were no longer the most important thing in his life and she was going to free him of that responsibility," Hubbard testified.
It was during the same pretrial hearing, in which defense lawyers unsuccessfully sought to bar Lemak's alleged confession to police from being admitted as evidence against her, that prosecutors played a recording of the 911 call.
At the time DuPage County Circuit Judge George Bakalis did not release the tape and a transcript of its contents for examination by the news media and public. Lawyers for the Tribune then filed a motion seeking the tape and transcript.
Bakalis later heard arguments on that motion and agreed to unseal only the transcript, which was obtained by the Tribune on Thursday.
It showed that Lemak told the dispatcher on March 5 that she had given her children Ativan, an anti-anxiety drug, and that she was taking Ativan and the anti-depressant Zoloft.
Dispatcher: "Okay, how did . . . how did you do this, can you tell me?"
"When will they be here?" Lemak said.
Dispatcher: "They're on their way there now Lynn. Okay? Are you in your car, are you in front of the house?"
"No. I'm in my bedroom."
Later, the dispatcher asked Lemak if she had been drinking and if she was on any medications.
"I gave my kids some of the Ativan," she said.
Dispatcher: "You gave your kids some of your medications?"
"The Ativan," she said.
Dispatcher: "I just want you to . . . to kind of relax. Okay? Where's your husband at?"
"He moved out," she said.
Then the dispatcher brought up the subject of Lemak's dogs.
"They're old, and they are real nice. And one little cat. Don't let 'em let the cat run out," Lemak said.
Dispatcher: "Have you taken anymore meds that you needed to or have you taken your . . ."
"I did last night," Lemak said. "I didn't want to wake up this morning but I did. But the kids didn't."
Dispatcher: "Okay Lynn."
"The dogs are barking but they're real nice," she said.
At that point, police had apparently broken down the door, but Lemak remained on the phone with the dispatcher.
"Yea. They're right here," she tells the dispatcher. "They're . . . my kids. There's one right in here," she said in an apparent reference to Emily, who was in Lemak's bed.
"There's two boys in the other two bedrooms," she said. "My daughter is in here."
Dispatcher: "Okay, just let me know when they . . . when they . . . when they get there with you. Okay?"
"Some guys are in here," Lemak said.
Dispatcher: "Okay, I'm going to let you go. Okay?"
"Okay," Lemak said, ending the conversation, according to the transcript.
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