It was an anniversary of sorts, but not the kind you’d celebrate.
July 12 marked one year since police say Albert Jonas shot his wife and stepdaughter in their home in Plainfield's Liberty Grove subdivision. Samantha Falbo, then 25, was shot in the head. Her mom, Linda, 62, suffered gunshots to her chest and leg.
“[Samantha] doesn’t want to relive it,” said Tina Falbo, Samantha’s sister and Linda’s older daughter. Tina has served as a family spokesperson and guardian for her sister since the July 2011 shooting.
“She’s very positive in spirit,” Tina said. “We choose as a family to move forward.”
Now 26, Samantha is doing just that. After a monthlong stay at Rush-Copley Hospital in Aurora and an inpatient stint at in Wheaton, Tina said Samantha completed her outpatient physical therapy and continues to make progress at home.
“Cognitively, she’s 100 percent there,” Tina said. “Her speech is 100 percent returned.”
Samantha’s memory was also unaffected — with one exception. Her sister says she does not have any recollection of the morning she was shot.
“Before she was even able to speak, she communicated with me via whiteboard,” asking what had happened, Tina said.
While she hasn’t yet been cleared to return to work, Tina said her sister can walk with the assistance of a cane, and has even been able to walk short distances on her own.
Tina said Samantha also continues to work on regaining use of her left arm, which was partially paralyzed in the shooting.
“Do they think she’s going to regain full use of it? Probably not,” Tina said, but added doctors believe she will regain some functional use of her arm.
Mom Linda is also making a fresh start and is doing well, according to her daughter. A week after the shooting, she filed for divorce from Jonas, and has gone back to her maiden name, Wyns.
Originally from Bolingbrook, Tina said her mother had lived in for seven years prior to the shooting. The family has since returned to Bolingbrook.
Tina described accusations from Jonas that her mother abused him as “ludicrous.” Two days after the shooting, a prosecutor outlined the events of the morning of July 12, 2011, as told to police by Jonas.
Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Joel Brown said the then-75-year-old Jonas told that his wife physically and verbally abused him, and even suggested he kill himself.
“That’s just him trying to spin things to make society feel sorry for him,” said Tina, who added she was not shocked by the shootings.
“I had made the comment to my best friend that in my heart, I was afraid he would kill my mother and my sister,” she said. “I have seen the sinister side of him.”
Acceptance, but not forgiveness
Following the shootings, Jonas was charged with attempted murder and two counts of aggravated battery with a firearm.
In March, Will County Judge Sarah Jones declared Jonas unfit to stand trial after two doctors determined he suffers from disorders including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Tina said she agrees that Jonas, now 76, is in no condition to stand trial.
“But do I think he’s cunning and manipulative and sly and capable of pulling the wool over people’s eyes?” she said. “Yes, I do.”
Jonas is due back in court July 27, when a date is scheduled to be set for a discharge hearing. A discharge hearing is held when a defendant is determined to be unfit, and unlikely to become fit within 12 months.
“If by some strange miracle he became fit [within a year], my understanding is that he would be brought back for trial,” said Tina, who regularly attends Jonas' court appearances on behalf of the family.
Despite her anger over the attack on her mother and sister, Tina said she has accepted what happened.
“I will never forgive him — he’s destroyed a certain aspect of our lives that I don’t think we’ll ever recover,” she said. “But I have accepted what happened — I have moved forward.”
Tina Falbo said she has also accepted the judge’s ruling that Jonas is unfit for trial.
“As far as I’m concerned, as long as he’s not on the street again, I’m happy,” she said.
Smiles for Samantha
According to Tina, the Bolingbrook community has rallied around the family.
A non-profit organization, Smiles for Samantha, was established to help pay for costs associated with her medical care and rehabilitation.
Donations payable to Smiles for Samantha can be sent to P.O. Box 1755, Bolingbrook, IL 60440.
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