Members of Brittany Wawrzyniak’s family went to the Worth police department last week to pick up copies of the long-awaited report concerning her death.
But in the week that has followed, family members have come to realize that the 71-page report does not answer the critical question that they’ve been posing for seven months: Who is responsible for Wawrzyniak’s death?
That’s been the central question since Nov. 8, when Wawrzyniak died after being ejected from a moving SUV in the parking lot of the Worth boat launch.
It is not, however, the family’s only question.
They wonder, for example, why the Eric Johnson, the driver of the SUV from which Wawrzyniak was ejected, was never charged in connection with her death. Johnson was charged with conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance and is serving a 3 1/2 –year prison sentence.
Additionally, the family asks, why did the Worth police close the death investigation three weeks after they said a full investigation would require an additional eight to 10 months? And why did four months pass before police interviewed a couple that encountered Brittany’s bodies while walking their dogs near the boat launch?
The Worth police closed the case several weeks ago and determined her death to be accidental.
Family members admit that sifting through the details of the report has been both overwhelming and frustrating as they digest the myriad details looking for any information that will help determine who is responsible for Wawrzyniak’s death. They’ve spotted some inconsistencies in witness accounts, but little else so far, they say.
The final report includes the reports filed by the Worth police, the Cook County Medical Examiner, the Cook County Sheriff, the Cook County Circuit Court and Illinois State Police Forensic Lab.
It includes the police department’s incident report as well as summaries of the witness interviews, which were conducted in the days following Wawrzyniak’s death.
Based on those interviews, prosecutors determined that Wawrzyniak met Johnson at the boat launch, got into the back seat of his SUV and handed him $200 in exchange for 30 pills of Clonazepam.
She began counting the pills while still in the backseat. When someone tried to open the rear door of the SUV from the outside, Johnson sped away.
Wawrzyniak opened the door of the moving vehicle, was ejected and struck the pavement, prosecutors said. She was pronounced dead at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn less than one hour later.
The Cook County Medical Examiner ruled that Wawrzyniak died as result of multiple injuries sustained due to a fall from an SUV, including lacerations, abrasions and contusions to the head; skull fractures; dislocation of the neck and abrasions and contusions to the back and upper extremities.
Wawrzyniak allegedly met Johnson and his girlfriend, Courtney Hyzy at the boat launch for a drug buy that was arranged, according to witnesses, to set up to force a fight between Hyzy and Lily Arboleda, 18, of Chicago, a close friend of Wawrzyniak.
Arboleda later was charged with conspiracy to commit battery for her role in the incident.
Hyzy has not been interviewed by Worth police, a fact that remains puzzling to the Wawrzyniak’s family.
Wawrzyniak’s toxicology reports were clean, a fact her family heralded to indicate that she was not involved in drugs.
However, a Feb. 13 police interview with a Palos Heights woman who knew Wawrzyniak via her friendship with the woman’s son tells a different story.
The woman told police “Brittany was a good person but she did have her faults,” the report said. She told police Wawrzyniak admitted to smoking marijuana and taking Xanax and k-pills and drinking alcohol. She said Wawrzyniak ignored her advice about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, according to the report.
The woman also told police that she had tracked Hyzy to her sister’s residence in Evergreen Park and advised police to obtain a DNA sample from her. She said the DNA sample could be used to compare with any DNA evidence found on Wawrzyniak.