Myron D. Ester was charged with one count of first-degree murder in the death of Linda Valez, 33. Judge Robert Klemann made the ruling during a hearing at the DuPage County Courthouse in Wheaton.
Ester appeared in person wearing a yellow jumpsuit. He alternated between looking down at the ground and back up again as Assistant State's Attorney Tim Diamond detailed Ester's relationship with Valez.
It was difficult at first to understand Diamond and Klemann as they spoke in the courtroom, which was filled with attorneys and family members for other cases. Gloria Araujo, Valez's mother, sat in the front row and said she wanted to hear what was being said.
"This man killed my daughter," Araujo said out loud. The courtroom quieted quickly as a deputy warned her that another "outburst" would get her removed from court.
Diamond said Ester stabbed Valez 34 times during an argument sometime on Sept. 24 at Panfish Park in Glen Ellyn. Ester initially denied knowing Valez's whereabouts but then changed his story when confronted with evidence, including footage of him and Valez on Sept. 24 leaving the Glen Ellyn McDonald's on the 400 block of Roosevelt Road.
Valez recently started working at that McDonald's location, Margaret "Meg" Burau of Glen Ellyn told Patch. Valez told her friend Burau on Sept. 23 that it was her first day working there while she served her.
Valez has family in Wheaton but was homeless by choice, her friends told Patch. She had tried to break off her relationship with Ester, but he refused to leave her, Diamond said.
The Night She DisappearedAfter they left McDonald's on Sept. 24, Valez and Ester walked a couple blocks east to Panfish Park in Glen Ellyn. There they drank and later got into an argument, according to Diamond.
Ester told police that it was Valez who pulled a knife on him but he was able to throw it to the ground. Then he said he blacked out and could not remember the rest of the evening.
At about 2 a.m. Sept. 25, Ester appeared at a Glen Ellyn fire station to seek treatment for a cut on his hand. He was transported to a local hospital and told those who cared for him that he could not remember how he injured himself, Diamond said.
Police said a witness reported seeing Ester in the park on Sept. 24.
Where's Linda?Diamond said Valez usually checks in with her family, so they filed a missing person report when they didn't hear from her. The family began to check around town and so did police.
Valez was known to frequent Panfish Park, so on Saturday morning an officer did a foot patrol there. He found a clearing in a wooded area with drops of blood. Police found Valez buried there in a shallow grave.
Araujo sobbed into her lap as the assistant state's attorney described her daughter's injuries. She had torso, neck and facial stab wounds, including one through an eyeball and into her brain, Diamond said. She also had defensive wounds on her arms indicating that she held them up during the attack.
Finding EsterInvestigators looked to Ester as a suspect, but he left town.
Ester told a witness that he found out that Valez was seeing other people. He admitted to a witness that he did kill Valez, then later said he was joking and said that it was just an argument, Diamond said. Ester also asked if police could trace him from his cell phone if he took the battery out, which he did.
Police eventually found Ester on Sunday hiding in the basement of a friend's house in Naperville. He was taken into custody without incident, police said.
Ester was appointed a public defender and given Oct. 8 as his next court date.
A man in the gallery called Ester a "son of a (expletive)" under his breath as Ester was led out of the courtroom.
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