MARKHAM | As a Calumet City man appeared in court Thursday on charges in the death of his live-in girlfriend, friends of the victim said they are planning a tribute to her memory – a benefit to attract attention to domestic violence.
Donol Clark, 42, who has been held at Cook County Jail without bond since his arrest in October, appeared in court Thursday for the first time since Gena Chiodo’s body was discovered in a forest preserve near Lowell. It was his first court appearance since entering a not guilty plea to charges of murder and concealment of a homicide.
The Cook County state’s attorney’s office provided defense attorneys with grand jury transcripts of the indictment proceedings. Also discussed among attorneys and Judge Frank Zelezinski was DNA evidence prosecutors plan to use against Clark.
Assistant State’s Attorney Patrick McGuire said it would take time to process it and comply with discovery, but Zelezinski said he’d be watching to make sure the process does not drag out.
“I don’t want to waste a lot of time,” he said.
Defense attorney Philip Coffey said that once the DNA evidence is received, he would want to have his own analysis done on behalf of Clark.
Another hearing was scheduled on Jan. 18.
Among those in the courtroom were more than a dozen friends and family of Chiodo who are preparing for a benefit in her name to be held Feb. 23 at the Knights of Columbus Council 3450 hall in Lansing.
That date was chosen because it would have been Chiodo’s 43rd birthday, Donna Wuchter said.
Wuchter said the event at the 178th Street and Lorenz Avenue location would feature a live band and silent auction, in hopes of raising money to be donated to organizations that work to reduce domestic violence.
Chiodo, who lived in Calumet City and worked at a Munster hair salon, was reported missing by her friends in October. When police made a check of her house, they found Clark. He told them she had run off days earlier, but police said they found physical evidence, including traces of blood, that indicated a struggle.
He was arrested although police did not find Chiodo’s body until early December when a hunter stumbled across human remains wrapped in a bed sheet in a wooded patch near U.S. 41. The remains were identified using dental records.