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Teacher allegedly beaten for days before her death; husband, also a teacher, is charged with murder

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A Joliet, Ill., junior high school teacher beat his wife repeatedly over three days before calling 911 when she became unconscious, Will County prosecutors allege in charging the man with first-degree murder.

Authorities say Michael Kazecki caused the blunt-force trauma injury that killed his wife Rebecca Kazecki, who was also a junior high teacher in Joliet. She died Tuesday at a local hospital, a day after being admitted under what officials called “suspicious circumstances.” She was 38.

Michael Kazecki, also 38, was booked into Will County Jail on Tuesday evening on charges of aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and aggravated domestic battery, according to jail records.

But at a court hearing Wednesday, prosecutors added charges of first-degree murder and a judge set his bail at $2 million.

Prosecutors allege that Michael Kazecki hit and kicked his wife repeatedly over the course of three days, starting on Saturday, after she attempted to intervene while he was disciplining one of the couple’s three young children.

On Tuesday, Michael Kazecki called 911 to say his wife had suffered a medical issue and was unresponsive, prosecutors said.

Responding officers found Rebecca Kazecki on the floor next to a couch, Joliet police Deputy Chief Al Roechner said.

“It was determined that Michael and Rebecca had been having an argument over the weekend in reference to … things going on around the house and that it had turned violent, with Michael striking Rebecca several times … at various times throughout the weekend,” Roechner said.

Medical personnel at the hospital reported to police that her injuries were consistent with a severe beating, the deputy chief said.

Preliminary results of an autopsy Wednesday indicated Rebecca Kazecki died of a head injury caused by blunt force trauma, according to the Will County coroner’s office. Officials there said that a final determination on the cause and manner of her death is pending the result of a Joliet police investigation.

Prosecutors, who asked for a $5 million bond, said the defendant made statements to investigators and “wrote a letter to police taking responsibility for incident.”

However, in court Kazecki’s attorney, Nathaniel Tate, said: “We greatly contest the nature of the charges.”

He declined further comment following the hearing.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is also investigating allegations of neglect involving Michael Kazecki, the agency confirmed.

DCFS released a statement saying it “previously had contact with this family for allegations of neglect. The investigation was unfounded due to a lack of evidence.”

The Kazecki children are in DCFS protective custody.

Rebecca Kazecki was an eighth-grade special education teacher at Gompers Junior High School and had worked there for 14 years; Michael Kazecki teaches seventh- and eighth-grade language arts at Washington Junior High School and has worked there for a total of 10 years, Joliet Public Schools District 86 spokeswoman Sandy Zalewski confirmed.

“We’re deeply saddened by the death of Gompers teacher Rebecca Kazecki and extend our condolences and sympathies to the family at this most difficult time,” she said in a written statement.

She added that social workers are available to support staff and students as needed.

The first day of class in the district is Aug. 20. The district includes 21 schools with about 13,000 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

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© 2018 Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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