We’re learning more about the suspected murder of a 24-year-old Winnebago County woman on Friday.
Destiny Tolodxi was found dead inside a home on Atwood Avenue Friday afternoon. Now, local investigators are working with detectives in Wisconsin to piece together a case.
Early Monday morning, Winnebago County Detectives and a crime scene officer left for Wisconsin to continue the investigation.
Neighbors couldn’t believe the scene on Atwood Avenue on Friday evening. “I never dreamed anything like that,” said nearby neighbor, Betty Dougherty.
“It’s hard to believe it happened,” said Jack Doughtery. “I mean, you look up street now, and you see nothing. But, it was a whole street was lined up with police cars.”
About 100 miles away, earlier that day, a Pontiac G6 GT registered to Tolodxi crashed into an excavator on I-94 in Wisconsin, killing the driver. Witnesses said the car was southbound on the interstate when the driver’s side front wheel fell off, causing the crash.
Winnebago County Deputy Chief Mike Schultz says police started connecting the dots between the two cases while on the scene on Friday.
“Racine County Sheriff’s Department had called our 911 center earlier in the day, inquiring about the registered owner of that vehicle, shortly after their crash,” Deputy Chief Schultz said.
Tolodxi’s death is still officially considered a ‘suspicious death’, but the Sheriff’s Department is investigating it as a homicide.
Deputy Chief Schultz says it’s easier to treat the case as a murder initially, rather than trying to ramp up the investigation later.
“We’re conducting all the critical interviews, collecting all the critical evidence,” he said. “It’s almost impossible to go back and get immediate information and evidence if we don’t treat it like a murder.”
Shultz says that for now, identifying the driver of the Pontiac is their top priority. “Because the vehicle caught fire and the deceased up there is badly burned, trying to identify that person could prove to be time consuming,” he said.
Police have a person of interest, but are withholding the identity until it can be forensically confirmed by the autopsy.
Dougherty adds that living on Atwood Avenue for almost sixty years, the street will never look the same to him after Friday’s events.
“It’ll always be heartbreaking, though, when you go by there and look, because of what happened,” he said.
Tolodxi’s autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday. According to her Facebook profile, Tolodxi, a graduate of Auburn High School, most recently worked as a CNA at Mercyhealth Rockford Memorial Hospital.
The hospital released the following statement on Monday:
“There are no words to describe the tragedy Destiny Tolodxi’s family is going through at this time. Mercyhealth is deeply saddened by the news of her death. Destiny was a Certified Nursing Assistant at Mercyhealth Hospital and Clinic-Rockton Avenue. She joined our team in September 2015. We have called in the Employee Assistance Specialists to provide support to the staff. Therefore, we ask the community and the media to respect their privacy during this difficult time.”