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Peaceful Elgin neighborhood is nervous after murder in its midst

A woman found dead Garden Quarter subdivisitownhouse Saturday apparently was stabbed death.   LisKoziol-Ellis 33 was found dead her

A woman found dead in a Garden Quarter subdivision townhouse Saturday apparently was stabbed to death. Lisa Koziol-Ellis, 33, was found dead in her home at 1 Garden Crescent Drive at 2:30 a.m. Saturday. March 4, 2013 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 7, 2013 6:29AM

ELGIN — A handful of multifamily housing complexes in the city are notorious for high crime rates — burglaries, drug sales, fights, gang activity almost every week.

The Garden Quarter, just west of Wing Park on the city’s west side, is not one of those.

So after the murder of Lisa Koziol-Ellis on Saturday, the residents remained nervous during Tuesday’s snowstorm as crime-scene cleaners walked in and out of the dead woman’s townhouse and a white wooden cross with her name on it stood in the snow along the home’s side wall, next to a bouquet of red roses.

Koziol-Ellis, a 33-year-old avant-garde artist and Chicago entertainment figure who went by the nickname “Foxy Goat,” had just moved into townhouse the previous Wednesday with her husband, “Dash” Ellis. Before that, they reportedly had lived in Chicago and Hoffman Estates.

Dash Ellis called 911 at 2:30 a.m. Saturday and said that when he had come home from work just before that, he had found his wife injured.

Kane County Coroner Rob Russell said Monday that she apparently had died from “multiple stab wounds.” Tissues from her body were sent for toxicology analysis, which Russell said Tuesday typically takes four to six weeks.

Her former neighbors in the complex said Tuesday that the most alarming aspect of the case is not knowing how and why she was murdered. Police have not yet determined how she met her end and have reported few details of the attack.

A home invasion?

A neighbor of the Ellises who prefers to be known only as “Dave” said detectives took away the Ellis townhouse’s front storm door and he believes they also replaced the inside front door. That could suggest that the doors may have contained evidence of the home having been violently invaded, or at least burglarized, via the front.

Also, one of the crime-scene cleanup crewmen, though refusing to comment to a reporter about the murder investigation, referred to the crime Tuesday as “a home invasion.”

While declining to say whether there had been signs of forced entry, police Cmdr. Glenn Theriault said Tuesday that detectives have not excluded any theory about what happened and have not ruled out any suspects, although he said the woman’s husband has been cooperating with the investigators.

“We have interviewed dozens of people, and we were in the home for two days, making sure we looked at all the physical evidence,” Theriault said.

But “this fits no pattern of crime either in this neighborhood or in the city as a whole,” Theriault said. He said Garden Quarter, which covers about eight blocks, has had just one burglary reported in the past two years.

And even that burglary, neighbor Dave said, wasn’t much of a crime. “It was a case where a man took an Xbox from his ex-wife’s place.”

“I don’t know if this neighborhood is crime-free, but I don’t think it’s worse than anywhere else,” said Dave, who said he has lived there nine years and that his parents lived in another part of Garden Quarter before that.

“My wife and I both work, and we never worry about coming home late at night. But this happened awfully close. Since Saturday, we started putting a wooden bar in the back sliding glass door. We also have two Weimaraners to scare off any intruder.”

Dave said he and his wife met Koziol-Ellis briefly a week ago, as she was getting her townhouse ready to move into. They crossed paths with her in the parking lot and briefly exchanged hellos.

“We said we were glad to have someone moving in there, because it had been a foreclosure and had been empty for about two years,” Dave said.

Since the murder, he said, he has been interviewed by police three times.

Another townhouse owner, Aurelio Aguinaga, said the complex is the kind of place where neighbors say “hi” to each other and sit down together in chairs on a warm night.

“About half of us have children,” he said. “In the summer, if one of my neighbors has gone up to bed and left his front door open, I will close the door for him.”

Aguinaga said the only previous Garden Quarter crime he knows of is that coins and other minor items have been stolen from unlocked cars overnight — one of the most common crimes in Elgin.

The neighbors said they have vowed to be more watchful and keep their homes secure. They said police going door to door have urged them to report any suspicious behavior to 911. But a grade school-aged boy still answered a doorbell ring at one of the townhouses within sight of the murder scene. The boy’s mother, Pam Lawson, came to the entrance and said, “My kids aren’t supposed to answer the door like this.”

“It’s scary when you have kids who have to walk to the bus stop and you don’t know what happened,” Lawson said. “It probably was someone she knew who killed her. But who knows for sure?”

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