OTTAWA - While a Normal woman's parents from Seneca were being buried Monday, a man was in a LaSalle County courtroom telling the judge he killed the couple and would represent himself in the case.
Aloysius Twardowski, 84, and his wife, Catherine, 87, were bludgeoned to death Wednesday in their home in what authorities said was an apparent burglary that turned deadly.
"I did it and do not need a lawyer," Keith Mackowiak, 39, of Seneca, told Judge H. Chris Ryan in his first court appearance on two counts of first-degree murder.
Ryan said the issues of Mackowiak's plea and legal representation will be discussed when Mackowiak returns to court Aug. 10 for an arraignment.
Mackowiak was jailed on $5 million bond, meaning he has to pay $500,000 to be released.
State's Attorney Brian Towne said after court that a decision has not been made about seeking the death penalty. He said he first wants to discuss that with the family.
The couple is survived by daughters Fran Kaufmann of Normal and Connie Temple of Sheridan.
Mackowiak is eligible for the death penalty if convicted because it was an especially brutal crime, involved multiple victims and was committed during the course of a burglary, prosecutors said.
If a death penalty is sought, Illinois law requires the judge to appoint a lawyer to at least assist in Mackowiak's defense. If capital punishment is not sought, the maximum penalty could be life in prison without parole.
The couple had been dead for several hours before they were found after an anonymous phone call was made around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday to Morris Hospital. LaSalle County Sheriff Tom Templeton said Monday he knew who that caller was but could not disclose it at this time.
The couple was killed in their home's den sometime earlier when they were struck in the heads with a 4-foot-long shovel, Templeton and court documents said.
The shovel was found at the scene, but Templeton would not say where the shovel came from.
The couple's car was taken but later recovered at a mobile home park a few miles east of where Mackowiak lived. Templeton would not say if police believe he acted alone in the killings or if he is being investigated for any other unsolved crimes.
Mackowiak was taken into custody at his home without incident hours after the murders. He was held on a Cook County warrant charging him with leaving the scene of a personal injury accident.
He was charged with the murders two days later, and those charges were announced Monday.