JEFFERSON PARK — A 39-year-old woman was killed Thanksgiving morning when a man who had been pacing outside her Jefferson Park home slit her throat when she left for work, police and neighbors said.
The medical examiner's office identified the woman as Maria Gonzalez Thursday evening.
Fred Jakubowski — who lives next door to Gonzalez in the 4800 block of North Moody Avenue — was awake with his "brand new granddaughter" and heard screaming outside shortly after 5 a.m.
Jakubowski rushed outside and saw his neighbor lying on the ground. A man was standing over her holding her purse, Jakubowski said. When Jakubowski yelled at the attacker, the man quickly ran down the street and drove off in a red car, witnesses said.
Jakubowski placed a pillow under Gonzalez, whose throat had been slit, and waited for paramedics to arrive.
Gonzalez was pronounced dead on the scene at 5:22 a.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.
Cops are investigating the death as a homicide and said it may have been domestic-related.
Family members could not be reached for comment Thursday.
"It’s a horrible thing to happen on a wonderful day," Jakubowski said outside his home Thursday morning, adding that his wife and children were shaken up.
"I was in Vietnam," he said. "I saw war, but this is not war. This is senseless. It’s murder. It’s terrible."
Neighbor Julie Farias, who lives across the street, said she and her husband woke up about 4:30 a.m. when their Great Dane, Caroline, starting "going nuts." The dog typically only barks at strangers, Farias said.
A couple that lives directly across the street from the victim noticed a man pacing outside before the murder, Farias said. The couple was waiting for a taxi to take them to the airport and worried that the man might be casing their house, which had been burglarized about six weeks prior.
"He was obviously waiting," Farias said. "The neighbors saw him pacing for quite a while."
Several residents said Gonzalez worked at a nearby Dunkin Donuts and was possibly headed to work when she was killed. She left around the same time every day.
Jakubowski said he watched detectives place an evidence bag around Gonzalez's hand Thursday morning — suggesting she may have fought back and had her attacker's DNA on her hand.
Gonzalez moved to the block about a month ago, Jakubowski said, and was living in the basement apartment of her relatives' home. One neighbor said she often saw the woman with a young girl, about 4 years old, but wasn't sure if the child was her daughter.
As families prepared for Thanksgiving on the residential block, most said they were shocked by the news.
"You never hear any noise or fights. This is a nice quiet neighborhood," said Bob Kondos, who's lived on the street since 1972. "In all those years, I can't think of anything like this."