Back when Desperate Housewives debuted in 2004, some locals claimed that the town in the TV show was modeled after Naperville, Illinois, an affluent, modern, Chicago suburb. As far as I know, there is no direct connection between Naperville and Desperate Housewives, nor do I believe that Naperville's cultural subterrane is darker than that of any other affluent suburban community.
Of course, the dark-side stereotype of suburban life is nothing new. In fact, it's a cinematic staple. More than a few observers have noted a certain similarity between DH and John Waters' satirical portrayals of life in America's superficially idyllic, bedroom communities. As for the imaginary Naperville-Desperate Housewives link, I wonder if a conscious connection between Desperate Housewives and Naperville was primed by memories of the Marilyn Lemak case.
In 1999, a Naperville mother, Marilyn Lemak, murdered her three young children and botched her own suicide attempt. Lemak and her husband David, a physician, were going through a divorce. I've read conflicting accounts of who initially left whom, but the proximate trigger for the murders was Lemak seeing her estranged husband with his new girlfriend.
This week, the dark suburban stereotype was tragically resurrected after another Naperville mother brutally murdered her 7-year-old son and another child in her care. The details of the crime as reported in the ChicagoTribune are chillingly Waters-esque. If you're easily upset by such matters, I strongly suggest that you read no further.
Many in Naperville struggled to focus on those details and not the scene of "unimaginable horror" that prosecutors laid out Thursday in describing how Justin's mother, Elzbieta M. Plackowska, allegedly killed the two children.[...]
In bond court Thursday, prosecutors offered a chilling account of how Plackowska allegedly stabbed 7-year-old Justin 100 times as he pleaded for his life and told his mother he loved her.
The suspect then allegedly stabbed 5-year-old Olivia, whom she was baby-sitting, about 50 times because she was a witness. The girl also begged for her life, prosecutors said.[...]
According to prosecutors, Justin and Olivia were told to get ready for bed Tuesday, but instead they began jumping on the bed in the master bedroom of Olivia's town home on Quin Court.
Plackowska went to the kitchen to get a knife, then entered the bedroom and ordered the children to kneel and pray, prosecutors said.
"She told Justin he was going to heaven tonight," DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said.
Two family dogs also were stabbed to death in the rampage, officials said. Police said they recovered two knives, one in the kitchen sink, the blade bent backward, and the other in Plackowska's car.
Plackowska's attorneys asked that the judge assigned to the case, John Kinsella, be replaced by another judge. Kinsella was the prosecutor in a notorious 1995 murder case involving children. In their motion, the defense also asked that Judge George Bakalis not be assigned as a replacement. Judge Bakalis was the presiding judge in the Marilyn Lemak trial. In that case, a jury rejected Lemak's insanity defense and convicted her on three counts of first-degree murder. Lemak is serving life in prison without possibility of parole.