A mother stabbed her severely autistic son to death after she and the 14-year-old's godmother couldn't cope with caring for the him day and night.
Dorothy Spourdalakis stabbed her son Alex several times in the chest and nearly severed his hand slashing his wrist.
Then the two women took sleeping pills in a suicide pact, but survived. The women have now been charged with murder.
The tragic events are the culmination of a saga which started when Spourdalakis alleged that her son was being neglected and abused at the Loyal University Medical Center in Chicago.
She – by British autism researcher Andrew Wakefield, whose claim there was a link between the MMR vaccine and autism was discredited – appealed for help find Alex a home so she could remove him from the hospital.
After Wakefield's appeal and several posts by the autism activist site Age of Autism, an anonymous donor gave Spourdalakis funds that allowed her to leave the hospital with Alex.
She wrote in a March blog post that she would make sure Alex received 'appropriate medical attention.'
Police say that less than three months later, Spourdalakis and Alex's godmother and caretaker Jolanta Agatha Skrodzka could no longer handle round-the-clock care for Alex because they believed the 14-stone teen's 'emotional condition had worsened' since he was removed from the hospital.
Reports said the two women planned a suicide pact in their cramped apartment in River Grove, Illinois.
They first allegedly tried to kill Alex with sleeping pills. When that didn't work, police say, Alex's mother grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed the teenage boy multiple times in the chest as he lay in bed, according to authorities.
She then allegedly slashed the boy's wrist, nearly cutting off his hand. Once Alex was dead, she handed the knife to the godmother, who used it to kill the family cat.
A suicide note said the women killed the cat because they did not want it to go to a shelter.
The pair wiped off the knife and returned it to the butcher's block in the kitchen. The detailed their actions in a suicide note, according to authorities.
They then took sleeping pills with the intention of killing themselves and laid down in Alex's bedroom and locked the door, according to authorities.
The boy's father, who is separated from the boy's mum, found Alex dead and the two women barely conscious after he went to the apartment when no one answered his repeated phone calls.
Spourdalakis, 50, and Skrodzka, 44, were taken to the hospital, where they were treated and then charged with first degree murder.
"The murder was committed in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner," said Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Maureen O'Brien.