Eva Bratcher hid 96-year-old’s mother Regina Michalski’s body in freezer for nearly 2 years: prosecutors
CHICAGO– Two decades ago, when Sabrina Watson’s mother was about to face jail time, she gave her 14-year-old daughter a disturbing command.
Please note: the video above is from a previous report
According to Watson, Eva Bratcher instructed that if the girl’s grandmother died, she should be buried under a different name.
“And I said why? And she said, ‘Well, if you bury her, idiot, under the name Regina Michalski, I won’t get her checks anymore, and I need those checks,'” Watson recalled.
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Earlier this week, investigators discovered Michalski’s body in a freezer stored in the garage of a two-unit apartment building where she and Bratcher lived in Portage Park.
The 96-year-old woman had apparently been dead for nearly two years. While prosecutors gave no motive for Bratcher to hide the death, they did note that an ID card found at the home bore Bratcher’s photo but her mother’s name.
In addition to the fake ID, investigators found a document in the home that appeared to have been signed by Michalski – but dated after her apparent death, which Bratcher noted on a calendar as March 4, 2021 at 2pm.
A receipt found at the home showed Bratcher had purchased an Abt freezer a week after her mother’s apparent death, prosecutors said.
READ MORE: Body found in Northwest Side freezer, ID hasn’t been seen in years
The cause of death has not yet been determined, and prosecutors said the coroner’s office may need until the end of the week to fully thaw the body for autopsy.
Prosecutors said police are also still investigating whether Bratcher confiscated her mother’s Social Security checks or other benefits after her mother’s death. For now, she faces charges for concealing her mother’s death and possession of a fake ID.
During a hearing Thursday, Judge David Kelly called the allegations “very disturbing” and said she had to post $20,000 bail to clear them for electronic surveillance.
Bratcher’s defense attorney said she could afford $5,000 bail, but did not specify if she would be able to raise the extra money, and if so, when.
She is allowed to return to her building if she is released from prison, but the judge warned her against “unlawful contact” with the building’s other tenants, who are potential witnesses.
Michalski’s body was discovered after Watson, who lives in Kentucky, called the police and asked them to do a health check. “I just said I’ll call [the police] and just have them do a welfare check,” said Watson, 38. “What could go wrong? Apparently everything.”
Watson said she spent years scanning obituaries looking for her grandmother’s name. Michalski was not in good health when Watson last saw her decades ago.
Watson said her mother blocked her number and every time she visited Chicago and stopped by the house, no one would answer.
Estranged for years, Watson at one point took a drastic step to warn people not to associate with her mother: she created a Facebook page titled “Keep Eva Michalski / Bratcher in Prison.”
“This site is intended to warn EVERYONE who knows Eva Michalski (aka Eva Bratcher, aka Ewa Michalska and probably other aliases) that she is a DANGEROUS CRIMINAL!” the site says.
Court records show that in 2010, Bratcher was sentenced to four years in prison for counterfeiting in Lake County.
In January 2006, she pleaded guilty to two counts of forgery and was simultaneously sentenced to six months in prison and two years’ probation in the Cook County Jail.
Later in 2006, she was found guilty of two other counts of assault and violation of a protective order, while being sentenced to two-year suspended sentences.
Bratcher served her suspended sentences without meeting the requirements and she pleaded guilty to violating the terms of her release, records show. She was then sentenced to concurrent two-year prison terms, despite having served a considerable amount of time.
She also faced a number of charges that were dropped, including assault, assault, retail theft, criminal damage to property, and reckless and disorderly conduct.
Prosecutors said Bratcher hid her mother’s death from tenants in the building and neighbors by telling people her mother was in a nursing home.
One tenant, Brigitte Yanez, told the Sun-Times she recalled a conversation with Bratcher a few months ago in which Bratcher talked about buying a present for her mother.
“She talked about her like she was still here,” Yanez said. “I would be very confused because she told my father [that her mother] was in a home in Wisconsin.”
Bratcher is expected back in court on February 21.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire – Copyright Chicago Sun-Times 2023.)