Jury selection underway for Chicago woman accused of killing, dismembering landlord on North Side in 2022

Jury section is underway and a trial is expected to begin this week for a Chicago woman accused of killing her landlord and dismembering her body at an apartment in West Rogers Park in 2022. 

Sandra Kolalou faces murder and other charges after Chicago police searched a home where she rented a room and found 69-year-old Frances Walker’s head, arms and legs stuffed inside a kitchen freezer, officials said.

The trial for 36-year-old Kolalou was initially scheduled for January 22, 2024, but it was eventually postponed to Monday, April 15. 

Jury selection began Monday and is scheduled to continue Tuesday morning. Once jury selection is completed, the trial is expected to begin before Judge Ursula Walowski. 

During a hearing in February of last year, Kolalou's attorney Sean Brown demanded his client's right to a speedy, saying his client was framed and is innocent

Brown filed a motion to set bail but was denied. In the filing, the attorney claimed that newly discovered evidence contradicted prosecutors’ allegations against Kolalou and suggested she may have been framed by another tenant in the building for the crime.

Timeline of Frances Walker's death

Around 2:30 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 10, 2022, tenants in a home in the 5900 block of North Washtenaw Avenue heard screaming. Police say they tried texting and calling their landlord — identified Francis Walker — to make sure everything was OK. 

Later in the day around 6 or 7 p.m., after not being able to contact Walker all day, the tenants called police to report a missing person.

When officers arrived at the scene, Kolalou was leaving the home and heading to a tow truck that she had called and paid for using Walker's credit card, police said they later learned.

According to police, officers at the home on the city's North Side searched the residence and at first did not find evidence of foul play. However, after discovering the bloody rags in the trash can at the beach, officers searched again and were able to find some additional blood inside Kolalou's room.

Officers then discovered some of Walker's remains inside a freezer in the home.


New details released after Chicago woman charged with dismembering her landlord

Chicago police released new information Wednesday night regarding the murder and dismemberment of Francis Walker. Her tenant, Sandra Kolalou, has been charged.

Based on preliminary evidence, detectives believe Walker was killed in her bedroom and dismembered on the first floor of the residence.

Police say it appears the dismemberment could have possibly been done with "large butcher knives."

When explaining why no other tenants in the home had witnessed Walker being dismembered, CPD had this to say.

"The way the residence is set up, there's a couple apartments on the top floor – call it the second floor – and then on the floor where the victim lived, that is the same floor that Sandra resided on as well. And then there was a tenant in the basement. And there were deadbolts so people had privacy," said Chicago Police Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan.

"The residents were very cooperative. When they heard the scream, when they woke up in the morning, they immediately started texting the victim … started calling the victim. The victim didn't answer. There were some texts that were sent back from the victim's phone. It appears from what we know now that the defendant was sending texts from the victim's phone and not answering it," he added.

Kolalou's Defense

Prosecutors alleged that shortly before Walker was last seen, she was heard arguing with Kolalou about being served an eviction notice. Brown says that was impossible because Kolalou was seen on surveillance video attending a birthday party at a hotel in Warrenville at the time the argument allegedly took place.

Police were called to the apartment multiple times by tenants about the welfare of Walker, who shared the unit with Kolalou, but left each time for lack of evidence of a crime.

Tenants in the building were so concerned, prosecutors said, that they later followed Kolalou to Foster Beach after she called a tow truck driver to bring her car from a parking lot there to a mechanic and saw her deposit a garbage bag in a trash container that was later found to contain bloody rags.

Kolalou was arrested after she allegedly threatened the tow truck driver with a knife when he refused to relocate her car after she was denied service by the mechanic and he called out for police, who were close by.

But Brown said the tow truck driver told reporters that "he did not see a knife and assumed she had a knife because he was fearful after receiving information from the tenants and the police that she had possibly harmed Walker."

Brown said in absence of the threat, police had no probable cause to arrest Kolalou.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.