|Criminal penalty||8 years in prison|
Jeanette Sliwinski (born January 24, 1982) is a Chicago-born former model and felon. On July 14, 2005, according to sworn testimony, she attempted suicide while driving, causing a crash that resulted in the deaths of three local musicians.
Jeanette Sliwinski was born on January 30, 1982, a daughter of Polish immigrants. She attended Farwell High School. After graduating from high school she began taking on modeling jobs to help finance her bachelor's degree in marketing. After high school she took a career as a local print model in which her pictures ended up in calendars and lingerie ads. In 2002 she moved to Los Angeles, where she pursued her career to become a model for big companies like Vogue. But instead she ended up as a trade show model.
On July 14, 2005 after a fight with her mother, Sliwinski burst out the door and took her car out in an alleged attempt to take her own life by speeding down Dempster Street in Skokie, Illinois. Instead, she took the lives of John Glick of The Returnables, Douglas Meis of The Dials and EXO, and Michael Dahlquist of Silkworm when her car, going nearly 90 mph, ran three red lights and hit their car at an intersection. Both vehicles flipped over. The first calls to Skokie 911 came in about 12:15 pm. Before Meis died, he and Sliwinski were both taken to the hospital in ambulances. Police wanted to interview Meis before he went into emergency surgery, but police were too late and Meis died 10 minutes later from multiple injuries. When police interviewed Sliwinski, asking if she purposely drove into the car, she repeatedly changed her story. At 5:30 P.M. on the afternoon of July 15 Skokie police officers arrested Sliwinski in her hospital room. After the crash, Sliwinski underwent surgery for a broken ankle at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston before being transferred to the Cermak Health Services in the Cook County Jail. She was later charged with three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated battery.
Trial and imprisonment
Sliwinski pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and her trial began on October 15, 2007. To prove that Sliwinski was mentally ill, her attorneys showed records that she had been admitted to a Chicago psychiatric hospital only two weeks before the crash and that she had been released after only one day. Sliwinski was found not guilty of first degree murder but was convicted of a lesser charge of reckless homicide. She was sentenced to eight years in prison, with the possibility of parole after 19 months of good behavior. Upon hearing of the results, members of all three bands who had lost members were quoted as saying that "words failed them". Sliwinski served her sentence at Dwight Correctional Center, a maximum security woman's prison about 80 miles southwest of downtown Chicago. Prison officials secretly transferred Sliwinski from the Dwight Correctional Center to the Lincoln Correctional Center near Springfield, Illinois for her protection.
Release from prison
After serving less than half of her prison sentence, Sliwinski was paroled on the morning of October 2, 2008 from the Lincoln Correctional Center. Sliwinski's time in prison was reduced by a sentencing law that governs many Illinois crimes other than murder and can cut sentences in half, turning her 8-year sentence into 4 years. She also received credit for roughly two years and four months spent in the Cook County Jail awaiting trial, six months off for good behavior, and three months off for counseling received while in prison. The Illinois Department of Corrections received death threats directed towards Sliwinski shortly before her release. As a result, police stood guard outside her family's home in Morton Grove. Sliwinski was on probation for a year until October 2, 2009. She could have her driver's license reinstated as early as 2010.
- Police: Woman's Suicide Attempt Leaves 3 Dead
- Woman Accused In Fatal Crash Misses Court Date
- abc7chicago.com: Trial begins for woman accused of killing 3 with her car (10/16/07)
- Chicago Sun-Times: 'You don't understand. I want to be dead': ex-model
- 'Collision Course
- chicagotribune.com: Suicidal driver killed 3, will go free after 3 years
- Chicagoist: Sliwinski walks free today Archived 2008-10-05 at the Wayback Machine