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Prosecutor: Man solicited friend to kill ex-girlfriend's Darien family
By Christy Gutowski | Daily Herald Staff

DuPage State's Attorney Joseph Birkett, center, announces murder charges Saturday in the Darien triple slaying. Joining him are Assistant State's Attorney Jeff Muntz, far left, and Darien Police Chief Robert Pavelchik.


Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

Jacob Nodarse


Johnny Borizov


Jacob Nodarse


Mike Kramer


Lori and Jeffrey Kramer


Jeffrey and Lori Kramer


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Published: 3/6/2010 2:56 PM | Updated: 3/7/2010 12:35 AM

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Entangled in a custody dispute with his ex-girlfriend over their infant son, Johnny Borizov is accused of convincing a friend to kill her and other family members in a murderous plot that left three dead in an upscale Darien neighborhood.

Both men will appear in bond court today, when prosecutors plan to ask that they remain held without bond.

Borizov, 28, of Willow Springs, and Jacob Nodarse, 23, of Countryside, are charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Borizov also faces murder solicitation charges.

Authorities said Nodarse opened fire around 3 a.m. Tuesday on Jeffrey Kramer, 50; his wife, Lori, 48, and their 20-year-old son, Michael, after the shooter forced his way into the home by smashing a window with a hammer. Each victim suffered multiple gunshot wounds.

Prosecutors have not alleged Borizov paid Nodarse.

"This is a senseless act of premeditated murder," DuPage State's Attorney Joseph Birkett said Saturday at a news conference to announce the charges. "Whether it was for money, a child or whatever reason, the conduct is abhorrent; it's ruthless. The allegation is Nodarse was talked into and encouraged to do it.

"The crime was born out of hatred."

Nodarse confessed, but Johnny Borizov maintains his innocence. His attorney, Marc Wolfe, said authorities lack evidence - besides Nodarse's statements - linking Borizov to the murders.

"The claims and allegations against Johnny are ludicrous and are a figment of the imagination of a mentally unstable person," Wolfe said of Nodarse.

Birkett said Borizov used Nodarse as "a tool" to target the Kramers, especially 25-year-old Angela, who filed a civil case against her ex-boyfriend Jan. 15 to establish paternity, custody and financial arrangements for their 13-month-old son after the two separated and she moved back in with her parents.

Birkett said Nodarse searched for Angela through the house, but she was able to hide undetected in an upstairs closet and dial 911 on her cellular phone.

When officers arrived, the slain couple's oldest son, Anthony, 29, was climbing out a basement window. Michael Kramer's 17-year-old girlfriend also narrowly escaped and pounded on neighbors' doors in the Tara Hill subdivision for help.

To quell concerns in his community, Darien Police Chief Robert Pavelchik announced the crime was not a random act with a killer roaming local streets; the family appeared targeted.

The three survivors did not see the gunman, but Angela Kramer identified Borizov as having a possible motive to target her family, law enforcement sources said. She filed an order of protection against him days after the shootings.

Five hours after the slayings, Borizov voluntarily went to the Darien police station with his attorney for questioning. It was Borizov who first contacted police after watching television coverage of the violence to find out if his son's mother was OK.

Borizov was gambling at Joliet's Empress riverboat with his brother, Boris, at the time of the shootings - an alibi supported by video surveillance footage and credit card receipts.

Authorities, who sources said were aware of the ongoing child custody case and suspicious the ironclad alibi appeared staged, kept Borizov under arrest without charges since Tuesday as they continued their investigation.

His brother, Boris Borizov, with whom Johnny was gambling, also was questioned but is not charged with any wrongdoing.

Nodarse, who did not fight extradition, returned to Illinois late Friday.

He peacefully surrendered one day after the deadly shootings on an obstructing justice warrant after a task force of officers closed in on him outside his parents' home in southern Florida. Illinois authorities immediately boarded a plane for Florida. Nodarse confessed in a videotaped police interview, in which he also implicated Johnny Borizov, sources said.

Birkett said Nodarse led detectives to a trash bin outside an International House of Pancakes restaurant near I-70 in Terre Haute, Ind., where the murder weapon and the clothing he wore during the killings were recovered Thursday.

The defendants do not have a violent history. Nodarse lives in an apartment building owned by Borizov's uncle and worked at a Naperville BMW dealership until he quit Feb. 25. His attorney could not be reached for comment.

It's unclear what motive Nodarse would have to commit murder on behalf of Borizov, authorities said. Birkett declined to speculate.

Wolfe disputes that the ongoing court case was a motive for Borizov to target the Kramers. A Jan. 26 agreed order gave them shared custody of the their son and each participated in parenting classes.

Borizov had custody of the child, per the agreement, the morning of the shootings. He and Angela Kramer were due back in court March 10.

After the murders, authorities traveled to at least three states; secured search warrants for homes, cars, bank, credit card and phone records; interviewed at least five dozen witnesses; brought in canine units; and analyzed GPS and cellular technology.

As a forensic pathologist autopsied the dead, evidence technicians scoured the crime scene and scientists enlisted advanced technology to analyze potential evidence in the DuPage County sheriff's crime lab to find answers.

"They are experiencing the worst nightmare that can fall on any family," Birkett said of the survivors and the rest of the Kramer family. "They're in shock. They're grieving the loss of three family members."

A joint visitation for the Kramers will be held from 3 to 9 p.m. today at Hallowell & James Funeral Home in Downers Grove, followed by an 11 a.m. Monday Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Darien. Burial follows at Mount Auburn Memorial Park in Stickney.

Instead of flowers, mourners are urged to make a donation to an animal shelter of their choice.