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Daughter of slain Vernon Hills woman declared 'endangered'
By Lee Filas | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 4/2/2010 11:30 AM | Updated: 4/2/2010 5:26 PM

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Investigators are running down several leads in the brutal murder of a 50-year-old Vernon Hills woman, including possible strained relationships involving the victim, her daughter and the girl's boyfriend.

Police are scouring the country for Kristina Aksman, 20, and Daniel Baker, 21. They also designated Kristina "endangered and missing" to heighten law enforcement assistance and because it's unclear whether she is taking her mental health medication.

Vernon Hills Police Sgt. Patrick Zimmerman said officials believe the couple left the area in the hours after Marina Aksman was found beaten to death in her Olympic Drive home early Thursday.

Zimmerman said neither Marina Aksman's husband, nor Baker's parents have been in contact with their children since the murder.

Police said they want to question the couple about what happened at the house. No charges or warrants have been filed in the case.

However, Zimmerman said investigators are exploring several leads, including possible tensions between Marina Aksman and Baker over his 8-month dating relationship with Kristina, and the legal guardianship of Kristina the courts awarded to her mother because of the girl's mental health.

"It is one of the leads we are exploring," he said. "We are looking into all leads at this time, including the parents possibly not approving of that relationship."

Court records show Marina Aksman was appointed the guardian for her daughter nearly three weeks ago. Guardianship documents include a May 2008 letter from Kristina's doctor stating she suffers from seizure disorders and developmental delays, and she was on medication to treat her symptoms.

The doctor went on to say Kristina was "not fully capable of taking care of herself, being an independent adult or making her own decisions," documents stated.

Marina Aksman told the court her daughter suffered from "cognitive impairment disability" and her "capacity for judgment and reasoning is significantly diminished."

Zimmerman said Marina Aksman's husband, Robert Aksman, has been interviewed by police and the home has been released back to him. He would not comment on what was discussed, but said Robert Aksman has not had any contact with his daughter since the murder.

The Baker family has had no contact with their son since the murders, despite other published reports, Zimmerman said.

Police believed the couple is still driving Marina Aksman's 2009 silver Nissan Rogue with Illinois license plate 421 9607.

Police designated Kristina as "endangered and missing" and her name was entered into a key law enforcement database, Zimmerman said. Should the license plate be punched into a computer by police, it will be flagged.

He said officials considered issuing an Amber Alert for Kristina, but decided she does not meet the criteria.

The murder investigation unfolded after police responded to a call from a passer-by about a car on the lawn of the home in the upscale Gregg's Landing subdivision.

The silver four-door sedan registered to Baker's parents in Deerfield had crashed into the front of the house, a collision hard enough for the air bags to deploy.

While investigating, police found a rear glass door had been smashed, then discovered Marina Aksman's body.

Officials would not comment on the murder weapon, or whether police found it at the scene.

Lake County Coroner Dr. Richard Keller said Aksman died as a result of blunt trauma. Funeral arrangements have not been set, he said.

Marina Aksman worked as a hair stylist at an Ulta salon in Vernon Hills. The company has provided counselors to help workers deal with their grief, said Carlos Sainz, an area loss prevention manager for the chain.

"They're doing pretty well," Sainz said of Aksman's former co-workers. "They're coping as best as they can."

Aksman was extremely nice and a hard worker, he said.

Mundelein resident Sue Markgraf, a longtime client of Aksman, said she was shocked and saddened by the woman's death.

She described Aksman as a "surrogate sister" and said their appointments often ran long because of their friendship.

"We talked a lot," said Markgraf, who last saw Aksman about two weeks ago. "We laughed a lot."

Daily Herald staff writer Russell Lissau contributed to this report.