Former neighbor charged with murder in burglary, strangling of retired Waukegan teacher

Chad Jones | Lake County state's attorney's office

A man allegedly strangled a 74-year-old retired teacher while burglarizing her home last year in Waukegan, prosecutors say.

Chad B. Jones, 41, is charged with first-degree murder and burglary in the September 2019 death of Marlyn Cook, the Lake County state’s attorney’s office and Waukegan police said in a statement.

Prosectors say Jones broke into Cook’s house in the 2700 block of Evergreen Road and strangled her on Sept. 13, 2019.

Cook was found dead in her home two days later with signs of a break-in, prosecutors said.

Evidence shows that Jones, who lived on an adjacent street near Cook, was in the area during the time of murder, prosecutors said.

Tests of blood found on her face and DNA under her fingernails eventually led investigators to Jones, who fled to Wisconsin and Iowa, where he was arrested for a separate home invasion and for evading police, prosecutors said.

Waukegan police executed a DNA search warrant against Jones while he was in jail in Iowa for fleeing a traffic stop.

On Nov. 25, Lake County prosecutors charged Jones with the burglary of Cook’s home. On Tuesday, prosecutors charged Jones with her murder.

A Lake County judge on Wednesday ordered Jones held on $2 million bail, prosecutors said.

Marlyn Cook | Facebook

Cook spent her career in Waukegan Public School, according to the Lake County News-Sun, and is being remembered as an “excellent educator” and a “voice” of her “students and staff,” according to a former colleague.

“The Waukegan schools lost an excellent educator and the community lost a voice for our students and staff,” Waukegan school board member Anita Hanna said in a statement, according to the News-Sun.

“I am sorry about Mrs. Cook’s death, but it appears that justice was served” with this week’s arrest, Hanna said in the statement.

The Lake County coroner’s office has ruled Cook’s death a homicide by asphyxiation, the McHenry County Scanner reported.

Jones is due back in court Jan. 29.