The 74-year-old Waukegan woman strangled to death during an apparent home invasion, allegedly by her former neighbor, was a retired Waukegan school teacher.
Chad B. Jones, 41, of the 2500 block of Garrick Avenue in Waukegan, was ordered held in Lake County Jail on a $2 million bond after he was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Marlyn Cook, 74, of Waukegan.
“Marlyn spent her career in Waukegan Public Schools, leaving her positive influence and lasting impact on countless students and colleagues. Her service and commitment to education spanned five decades as a classroom teacher, literacy specialist, and substitute teacher,” her obituary said.
“The Waukegan schools lost an excellent educator and the community lost a voice for our students and staff. I am sorry about Mrs. Cook’s death, but it appears that justice was served,” Waukegan school district board member Anita Hanna said following the arrest, the News-Sun reported.
Hanna said that Cook taught as a substitute after retiring and was vocal with her opinions regarding the school district.
The Waukegan Police Department responded on September 15 to the 2700 block of Evergreen Road after family members found Cook deceased inside her home.
Officers located the woman and found signs of forced entry to her home. Family members told police she was last seen alive three days prior, the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office said.
The Waukegan Police Department Major Crime Unit processed the scene for possible foul play and the Waukegan Police Department Criminal Investigations Division (CID) responded to conduct the investigation.
On September 18, Jones was arrested by police in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin for a home invasion. Jones was taken into custody after he attempted to flee from officers during that incident, in which he was driving his silver 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis.
That arrest was posted on the Lake Geneva Wisconsin Police Department’s Facebook page and one of Cook’s family members was contacted by a friend, who recognized Jones in the Facebook post as being a former neighbor of the Cook family.
The state’s attorney’s office said that Cook had lived on an adjacent street and moved away from the area a year ago. The family member also remembered that Jones drove a silver Mercury Grand Marquis, prosecutors added.
The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office issued a search warrant for Jones’ DNA, which came back as a match for the DNA located on Cook’s body, prosecutors said.
Waukegan police arrested Jones after he posted bail on November 25 and was released from the Walworth County Jail. He was charged with burglarizing Cook’s residence on September 13.
The Lake County Coroner’s Office ruled Cook’s death a homicide on Tuesday and prosecutors approved a first-degree murder charge against Jones in addition to the burglary charge.
Assistant Lake County State’s Attorney Russell Caskey said in bond court that DNA test results showed Jones’ blood was found on Cook’s face and Jones’ DNA was discovered under the fingernails on both of the victim’s hands.
Lake County Coroner Dr. Howard Cooper told Lake and McHenry County Scanner that Cook’s cause of death was due to asphyxiation.
“She was a person of strong conviction and championed causes she believed in. She was an avid reader and committed herself to lifelong learning,” her obituary said.
“She also enjoyed attending church, singing, playing the piano, writing, traveling, baking, attending local high school sporting events, serving her educational sorority (Alpha Delta Kappa), walking her grandpups, and spending time with her cherished granddaughter whom she adored.”
Jones remains held in the Lake County Jail on a $2 million bond and is scheduled to appear in court again on January 29.