Sources confirmed this week that a woman accused of helping her boyfriend strangle a 19-year-old in Florida this past spring is a native of Tinley Park.
Nicole Okrzesik, 23, originally from and now a Florida resident, was indicted in June alongside codefendant James Ayers, 32. Each is charged with first-degree murder—a capital crime—in the Florida strangulation death of New Jersey woman, Juliana Mensch.
Okrzesik, whose family still lives within walking distance from her alma mater, was a 2007 graduate of , according to a secretary in the school registrar's office. Her mother politely declined to comment Tuesday afternoon on her daughter's arrest.
A source who attended grade and high school with Okrzesik said she had a child shortly after graduating and later "fled to Florida" with her boyfriend. The woman, who asked to not be named, wasn't sure if that man was Ayers.
At the end of March, Broward County Sheriff's deputies found "what appeared to be a decomposing body" in Ayers' Fort Lauderdale residence, according to a news release from the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. Some clues indicate that Okrzesik alleged role in the crime may have been holding the victim down for Ayers, according to The Daily Pulp, which is a publication covering the Broward County area in Florida.
The two were reportedly after drug money in Mensch's bra and had just finished "getting high." Mensch was sleeping on the floor in Ayers' rented room, according to a Daily Pulp story published in May.
The Huffington Post reported that phone records show Okrzesik Google searching "ways to kill people in their sleep" and "chemicals to passout a person" before the alleged murder and that she sent texts to Ayers trying to desuade him from turning them both in to police.
Rich Abdill, writer for The Pulp, which is an off-shoot of the New Times, has closely chronicled the case thus far. He reported last month that the couple—Ayers was originally indicted alone—faced a Grand Jury together. Last week, Okrzesik pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. Her trial has been tentatively set for Aug. 6.
Abdill published in May a comprehensive text message exchange between the two on the night of the murder.
One excerpt reads:
Ayers: We have a dead body in the house and you want to play?
Okrzesik: I'm not playing
Ayers: Call me right now or I'm calling the police, I've given you plenty of Time, you know I'm serious, please don't call my bluff
Okrzesik: why the f--- would you ruin our lives over little shit
Ayers, who sports a self-done tattoo that says "Sicker Than Most" across his chest, has a history of theft and drug possession convictions, according to Abdill.
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