Body found near Lowell is missing Munster hairdresser
By Michelle L. QUinn Post-Tribune correspondent December 3, 2012 11:16AM
Gena Chiodo. | File~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 3, 2012 9:24PM
CALUMET CITY, Ill. — An autopsy Monday determined a body found by a hunter Sunday is that of a missing Calumet City, Ill., woman whose boyfriend has been charged with her murder.
The body of Gena Chiodo was found wrapped in a sheet or comforter in a wooded area off a service road 1,500 feet east of U.S. 41 and south of Indiana 2, Calumet City Police Chief Ed Gilmore confirmed at a Monday afternoon joint press conference with Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey. The Lake County Forensic team conducted the autopsy and found many external and internal traumatic injuries due to assault.
“The cause of death is major blunt force trauma, and we’re working with our forensics team to determine further details. That will take a few weeks,” Frey said. “We are ruling the death a homicide.”
At approximately 1:30 p.m. Sunday, an unidentified man who was hunting in the area stumbled across the body, which was unclothed and in an “advance state of decomposition,” Frey said. Her team was able to identify Chiodo Monday through dental records.
Chiodo, 42, was last heard from Oct. 13, and Frey said she believes the body may have been left in the area as far as back as then, but her team will need to confirm that.
Frey and Gilmore thanked the various agencies and Chiodo’s friends for their diligence in bringing the case to a close. Patty Nasella, a longtime family friend who said she believed Chiodo’s relationship with Donal Clark, Chiodo’s boyfriend of 13 months who was charged with her murder, was dysfunctional, said she’s glad her friend was found.
“God must’ve pulled a few tricks so someone could find her,” Nasella said Monday. “It’s not right. Nobody is supposed to end their life that way, and I hope that monster (Clark) will never see the light of day again.”
Chiodo’s father, Donald L. Chiodo, 70 and of Cape Coral, Fla., said the family is still deciding where their daughter’s body will be laid to rest but that’s he’s grateful to all her friends here since he and his wife, Joyce, and son Donald are still unable to travel.
“In a way, it’s a good thing she was found but in a way, it’s not,” Donald Chiodo said. “This has been the worst day so far. I wish I could be there.”
Debbie Wood has been among the group of friends who’ve been searching for Chiodo’s body since her disappearance. She said they’d looked out around Lakes of the Four Seasons — where Clark’s mother is said to live — just this past weekend and had been all over U.S. 231.
“Police told us it would probably be hunters who would stumble across her,” she said. “We’re very thankful to them.”
Calumet City police went to Chiodo’s home in the 1300 block of Price Avenue after her co-workers and friends said they were worried because Chiodo hadn’t shown up for work for three straight days. Police repeatedly knocked on the door, she said, until they saw the curtains inside the home move.
They forced their way in and found Clark coming out of a back bedroom but didn’t find Chiodo as they searched the home. Blood, however, was found splattered throughout the house and in garbage cans behind the home.
Clark told police he and Chiodo had a fight Oct. 14 and he went to sleep. When he woke up at noon he said Chiodo was gone and he hadn’t seen her since. However, Clark’s license plate was run by Chicago Police that day at 105th and Michigan streets at about 9:55 a.m., contradicting his statement.
Clark reportedly talked about telling police where to find the body in exchange for a deal. He has previously been convicted of two armed robberies and residential burglary as well as a 2011 domestic battery conviction for punching a former girlfriend in the face.
The victim in that case — for which Clark is still serving conditional discharge — said he threatened to kill her several times.
Michael Clark, brother of Donal, said in a statement: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic events that have transpired. We loved and miss Gena very much. And our thoughts and prayers are with her loved ones during this difficult time.”