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Father held in death of 5-year-old Des Plaines girl
By Emily Krone and Sue Ter Maat | Daily Herald Staff

Kae Lawson


Elmyr Lawson


A 5-year-old girl was found dead in this apartment building on the 9200 block of Potter Road in Des Plaines.


Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart talks about the arrest of a Des Plaines man in relation with the death of his 5-year-old daughter.


Rob Olmstead | Daily Herald Staff

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Published: 3/7/2008 2:15 PM | Updated: 3/7/2008 8:33 PM

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A man was charged with two counts of first-degree murder Friday after admitting he suffocated his 5-year-old daughter with a towel in their home near Des Plaines, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said Friday.

Elmyr Lawson, 37, of 9205 Potter Road in unincorporated Maine Township, was charged in the death of his daughter, Kae.

The father said he suffocating the child because she had messed up her toys, Dart said.

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"This wasn't an accident," Dart said. "This was a willful act on his part."

The kindergartner was found by her mother when she returned home from work about 10:20 p.m. Thursday. The mother's name was not available.

The girl was taken to Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, where she was pronounced dead.

Lawson was babysitting Kae, but was not home when the mother arrived.

Lawson was a stay-at-home dad who hadn't had a job in about a year, Dart said. The mother worked two jobs, one as a nurse, to support the family.

Lawson was supposed to pick her up from work Thursday evening. When he didn't arrive around 8 p.m., she made repeated phone calls home. She finally received a ride home around 10:15.

Police have not determined a time of death, but the mother said she spoke with Lawson and Kae at about 7 p.m. The two had dropped her off at work that morning.

Police began searching for Lawson immediately. Elk Grove Village police found him around midnight, sitting in his car in a store parking lot near Route 53 and Biesterfield Road, Dart said.

Neighbors said the mother was hysterical when she ran out of the condominium the three shared.

Amada Gomez said she was the first person on the scene.

"I asked what happened and I told my boyfriend to call 911," Gomez said.

Gomez, who learned CPR at her hotel job, took the child from the mother and placed her on the floor.

"I then gave her mouth-to-mouth. Her lips were blue, her body was cold and I knew there was no life left in her anymore," she said.

Police and medical personnel arrived shortly afterward.

The mother said she found the little girl in the middle of the floor with the coffee table turned over, Gomez said.

The mother told police she called home every night to check on her child, said Gomez, who was standing next to the mother during her discussion with police.

Manish Patel, another neighbor, said the mother's screams woke him up.

"I was sleeping when I heard a woman screaming in the hallway, 'Please help me,' " he said.

His whole family, including his wife and mother-in-law, ran into the hallway, where they found a group of neighbors already there.

"She was a good little girl," said Patel, adding she was nicknamed "K.C." for Kae Cassandra, her full name. "She was my little friend. She always said hello to me."

His 11-year-old daughter, Nidhi Patel, said K.C. lived in the building when she moved in three years ago.

"She was my first friend. She would come to my house and play with our toys," she said.

Another neighbor child, Isabella Pangburn, 9, recalled going to K.C.'s home to play with balloons.

Patel and Gomez said the little girl's mother would always say hi, though they didn't know her well. Gomez said she was religious and swapped books on spiritual topics with her.

Police said Lawson has no prior criminal record. They also said it did not appear drugs or alcohol were involved.

He is being held in jail pending a bond hearing at 9:30 a.m. today in Skokie.