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McHenry Co. deaths ruled homicide-suicide
Coroner's jury makes decision in death of mother, daughter
By Charles Keeshan | Daily Herald Staff

Magdalene Kamysz


Sydney Kamysz


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Published: 11/8/2007 12:28 AM

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A Crystal Lake woman murdered her 7-year-old daughter and then tucked the girl in bed, her arms wrapped around two stuffed animals, before driving to a set of railroad tracks and stepping in front of a train to take her own life, according to testimony Thursday before a McHenry County Coroner's jury.

The testimony led the jury to rule the Aug. 28 death of Sydney Kamysz a homicide caused by asphyxia and that of her 28-year-old mother, Magdalene Kamysz, a suicide, closing the books on a case that shocked and saddened those who knew the bright and well-liked little girl.

Sydney, who was about to enter the second grade at Husmann Elementary School in Crystal Lake, was found dead in her bedroom when authorities went there while investigating the apparent suicide of her mother.

The girl's body showed no sign of injury except some bruising inside her mouth likely caused by her teeth pressing against her lips, Deputy Coroner Robert Locke told the jury. That, he said, is consistent with something being held over somebody's face to smother.

It was Locke who discovered Sydney dead when he went to the family's home to notify Magdalene Kamysz's parents of their daughter's death.

The girl was lying on her side, her hair positioned neatly on a pillow and her arms clutching a pink stuffed pony and a brown teddy bear. There were no signs of a struggle or forced entry to the home.

"She was resting in a peaceful position," Locke said.

Just hours earlier authorities had been called to railroad tracks in Cary after a Metra train struck and killed a woman who had stepped into its path. The woman, identified as Magdalene Kamysz through a mobile phone found near her body, walked in front of the train and then turned her back just before impact, the train's engineer told investigators.

Toxicology reports indicated that there were no drugs or alcohol in either Kamysz or her daughter when they died.

Magdalene Kamysz left no suicide note or anything else to explain her actions, McHenry County Sheriff's Detective David Mullen said. Records from her phone show she tried to call her father just before walking in front of the train, but was unable to reach him.

The only unusual incident in the days leading up to the murder-suicide, he testified, occurred two days earlier while Kamysz and the girl were spending a night at her boyfriend's home in Lakemoor. Kamysz, Mullen testified, woke up at 1 a.m. that day and told her boyfriend she and Sydney had to leave to get ready for school, which had not yet begun for the year.

"It doesn't give us a why but it was a little strange," Mullen said.

Despite a teacher's allegations that Kamysz was often harsh with her daughter, Mullen said investigators never were able to verify those claims or find any other evidence of abuse.

Kamysz had been in a legal dispute over visitation rights with Sydney's father at the time of the murder-suicide, but attorneys for both sides said the fight was not unusually bitter or contested.