An Illinois mother who allegedly stabbed her 8-year-old son with a paring knife more than 55 times, killing him in their driveway, attacked the boy because she believed Satan was coming for them, a 911 recording has revealed.
Thomas Kossow was having trouble sleeping when he asked his mother, Jody Lyn Kossow, if they could go outside and look at the stars in the early hours of September 10, 2013.
As his father, Michael, and one of his sisters slept inside, Thomas and his mother sat on the stoop of their rental home in Rockford, but it wasn’t long before Kossow went back into the house, grabbed a knife from the kitchen and went back outside to kill him, prosecutors said.
“Satan was after me. God told me to kill my son,” Kossow said during a 911 call played in Winnebago County court Tuesday, according to reports.
“I just killed my son. I just killed my son,” she said, screaming and crying as she told the 911 dispatcher what she had done. “Satan was coming after me. Oh, God. Satan was after me.”
Dr. Mark Peters, who conducted the autopsy, testified that the boy’s lungs and heart were pierced several times as he was stabbed in the chest 40 times, with two of the stab wounds penetrating his spine, The Rockford Register Star wrote.
His throat had been slit and slashed seven times, and his hands and arms had defensive wounds, Peters said.
“This was a child that did not want to die, that wanted to get away,” Pam Wells, assistant deputy state’s attorney, said during closing arguments, WIFR reported.
Kossow allegedly admitted that she held her son down as she repeatedly stabbed and slashed him, reportedly telling authorities that she had to "protect her son from the aliens and from Satan."
Deputies who responded to the home found Kossow covered in her son’s blood in the driveway, letting out an anguished scream as she was placed in handcuffs and at one point, repeatedly banged her forehead on the pavement, the Register Star reported.
Police had to wake Thomas’s father to tell him his son had been killed, authorities said.
Kossow was hit with a slew of charges, including first-degree murder, aggravated battery of a child and unlawful restraint.
Though she pleaded not guilty to the charges against her, the defense does not deny Kossow killed her son, but instead argued that she was mentally ill and did not know what she was doing.
Winnebago County Deputy Public Defender David Doll told Judge John Lowry, who is presiding over Kossow’s requested bench trial, that his client’s psychiatric problems went unnoticed for years.
Two separate psychiatric evaluations commissioned by the prosecution and the defense found that Kossow was criminally insane the night Thomas was murdered, as psychiatrists cited in part a series of bizarre behaviors and strange beliefs she held about witchcraft as a religion, Doll said.
Family members testified that Kossow identified as Wiccan, and her husband reportedly told authorities that she had been preoccupied with witchcraft.
“Jody loved Thomas. There was no reason for this to happen unless she had a mental breakdown,” Doll reportedly argued.
But prosecutors said Kossow knew what she was doing when she killed her son and that she had never before been diagnosed with a mental illness.
“The experts got it wrong,” Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office Criminal Bureau Chief Marilyn Hite Ross said, noting that the psych evaluations were completed more than two years after the killing and could not account for how and why Kossow was apparently lucid, coherent and compliant with officers at the scene.
If Lowry agrees that Kossow was not of sound mind on the night of the killing, she could be committed to a psychiatric institution until doctors, the Illinois Department of Health and Human Services and Lowry determine she is no longer a threat to herself or others. If Kossow is found guilty, but mentally ill, she would be sent to prison and would have access to psychiatric care.
Kossow reportedly showed no emotion as she sat in the courtroom and listened to the 911 call.
“She shows no remorse for what she has done,” a family member wrote in 2015 on a memorial page dedicated to Thomas. “Still we grieve for you.”
A third-grader at McIntosh Elementary, Thomas was known for his “sunny smile and boisterous laugh,” his obituary read.
He loved the Fast and the Furious film franchise, toy cars and had hundreds of Hot Wheels, one of his six siblings wrote on Facebook in a touching tribute to her little brother.
“For my brother in heaven, although you’re gone, we still remember. Your laughs and giggles, your tears and squeals, your goofy faces and dimples in places,” she wrote. “I love you to the moon and back and to the stars and back again.”
Lowry is expected to give his judgement on January 5, which Thomas’s loved ones wrote they hope will bring closure as they continue to grieve.
“I can honestly say that there has not been one day that has gone by and this little boy not cross my mind since he left us.” a relative posted. “And I hope he knows and sees how much love he has from so many people and how much we all miss him.”