UPDATE: Mother who admitted to stabbing son to death sentenced to confinement for 100 years

Published: Dec. 20, 2016 at 7:30 PM CST
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Updated: April 18, 2017

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – The woman found not guilty by reason of insanity for stabbing her 8-year-old son to death has been ordered to be confined to the Illinois Department of Human Services for 100 years.

According to the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office a judge found Jody Kossow in need of mental health treatment on an inpatient basis.

In September 2013, Kossow stabbed her son Thomas to death in the driveway of their home in the 200 block of Woodrow Street. In January, Kossow was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the charges of first degree murder and aggravated battery to a child despite admitting to the stabbing.

After the verdict was announced, Kossow was evaluated and the evaluation was submitted to the court in late March.

The State’s Attorney’s Office says under Illinois law, a person found not guilty by reason of insanity must be sentenced to confinement for the maximum period they could have received had they been convicted of the offense.


Updated: January 5, 2017

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- She says her son was conceived under a spell and was evil so she killed him to protect her family. That’s the reason Jody Kossow gave psychiatrists for killing her eight-year-old son Thomas. On Thursday Kossow was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

She kept her head down most of the time as Judge John Lowry announced his findings. He says there's no question Kossow killed her son Thomas in the driveway of their Woodrow Street home in September 2013, however went with the experts findings that she was legally insane at the time. Prosecutors argued the experts got it wrong. Saying she believed in witchcraft.

"Obviously we argued for the contrary, but our goal is to focus on Thomas, the little boy who lost his life at such a young age who should not have lost his life and should be alive today," Marilyn Hite Ross, Chief of the Criminal Bureau of the Winnebago Co. State’s Attorney’s Office, said.

The ruling doesn't mean Kossow goes free. She'll stay in custody for now and will be evaluated by the Department of Human Services. There will then be a hearing to determine if she needs mental health treatment and if it should be on an in-patient or out-patient basis.

Kossow’s family was in court for the trial, and says they’re still not sure how to react to the verdict.

"He could light up a room just by his smile. When he wasn't even smiling you could see the smile in his eyes. We feel that loss every day. It's a nightmare we're never going to wake up from," Misty Halterman Ahrens, Jody Kossow’s cousin, said.

That nightmare was early in the morning on September 10, 2013. Thomas Kossow was stabbed more than 50 times by his mother Jody.

"You want that guilty plea and you want the justice for Thomas. As any parent would want that happening for their child, you would want that person to pay the consequences for it, on the other hand, she was still a mom to other kids," she said.

Halterman Ahrens is now mom to Thomas' 15-year-old sister.

"She lost her brother and her mom all in one night. She was sleeping that knock on that door, she didn't realize her life was forever changed," Halterman Ahrens said.

"People look at Jody she's a monster, she is for what she's done, but she's still somebody’s mom. You can't tell her other kids to just forget who she was because there were good times," she said.

The family says they're now questioning Kossow and the months and years before the crime. Halterman Ahrens says they knew Kossow believed in witchcraft, but never noticed any mental problems.

"She was all about spiritual healing, you know rocks and the earth. That's weird but that’s not abnormal, that’s not crazy, that’s not insane, that’s not crazy to any of us."

The family's focus is now on healing and keeping Thomas' memory alive, saying there will never be closure.

"She could have been guilty with a death sentence, the electric chair, it would still never be justice for Thomas, honestly there will never be closure for him."

Kossow will be back in court next Friday as those hearings on her mental health and her future get underway. If she is sent to a mental health facility it will be up to doctors and the judge as to how she's progressing and how much time she spends there.


Updated: January 5, 2017

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Jody Kossow, the woman who admitted to stabbing her 8-year-old son Thomas Kossow in September 2013, has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Kossow's defense attorney says she was mentally ill at the time, and during the trial presented two expert reports from psychiatrists that both said she was having a mental breakdown and didn't realize what she was doing. A forensic pathologist says Thomas was stabbed 40 times in the chest, his throat was slashed seven times, and he had what were likely defensive wounds on his hands and arms. In the 911 call, Kossow claimed "Satan was after me. God told me to kill my son."

Jody Kossow will likely remain in a mental institution for the rest of her life.


Posted: December 20, 2016

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – “Satan was after me. God told me to kill my son.” Those are the chilling words from Jody Kossow, heard on 911 tapes just minutes after prosecutors say she stabbed her 8-year-old son more than 50 times.

Thomas Kossow likely died trying to defend himself. Prosecutors say Kossow admitted she held him down in their driveway at 228 Woodrow around 12:45am on September 10, 2013. “This is a child that did not want to die, that wanted to get away,” Pam Wells, Assistant Deputy State’s Attorney said during closing arguments.

Prosecutors say Kossow admitted during an interrogation the eight-year-old couldn’t sleep so they went outside to look at the stars. That’s when they say she went inside, grabbed a knife from the kitchen, and went back outside to kill him.

It's not a case of who did it, even the defense doesn't deny Kossow killed her son. This case comes down to her mental state. Kossow's attorney David Doll presented two expert reports from psychiatrists that both said the mother was having a mental breakdown and didn't realize what she was doing. “Jody loved Thomas. There was no reason for this to happen unless she had a mental breakdown,” he argued. Prosecutors say the experts got it wrong.

A forensic pathologist says Thomas was stabbed 40 times in the chest, his throat was slashed seven times, and he had what were likely defensive wounds on his hands and arms.

Several deputies who responded to the home in the minutes after the killing say Kossow appeared calm, responded to directions, and understood what was happening. However, Doll says the 911 tapes tell a different story. Kossow is heard screaming and crying as she tells a 911 dispatcher she killed her son.

Kossow’s family members also testified during the trial, saying she was a Wiccan. Prosecutors say her husband said Kossow was preoccupied with witchcraft.

This is a bench trial, meaning there is no jury to decide whether Kossow is guilty of First Degree Murder, Aggravated Battery to a Child, and Unlawful Restraint. Doll asked for a directed verdict on the charge of Unlawful Restraint, arguing prosecutors didn’t present enough evidence to prove the charge. Judge John Lowry will announce his verdict on all charges on January 5th at 11am.