Woman charged with concealing death of mother, whose body was found in freezer at their Portage Park home

Eva Bratcher, 69, was taken into custody shortly after police on a well-being check found the body of 96-year-old Regina Michalski around 4:35 p.m. Monday in the 5500 block of West Melrose Street.

SHARE Woman charged with concealing death of mother, whose body was found in freezer at their Portage Park home
merlin_111174624.jpg

Piles of trash can be seen Tuesday outside the building in the 5500 block of West Melrose in Portage Park where the body of 96-year-old Regina Michalski was found in a freezer the previous day.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

A woman has been charged with concealing the death of her 96-year-old mother, whose body was found in a freezer in the garage of their Portage Park home earlier this week.

Eva Bratcher, 69, was taken into custody shortly after police on a well-being check found the body of Regina Michalski around 4:35 p.m. Monday in the 5500 block of West Melrose Street.

0.jpg

Eva Bratcher, 69, was taken into custody and charged with concealing the death of her 96-year-old mother.

Chicago Police Department

It was not known how long her mother, Regina Michalski, had been dead. Neighbors said Bratcher had told conflicting stories in recent months: that her mother was in a nursing home in another state; that she was still living at home and doing fine; that she had died.

An autopsy determining the cause of death was pending.

regina_michalski.jpg

Regina Michalski

Family

Bratcher’s daughter Sabrina Watson, who lives in Kentucky, said she called police to check on the home because she had an “intuition” that something was wrong.

“I just said, I’m calling [the police] and just having them do a welfare check,” Watson said. “What could go wrong? Apparently everything.

“My heart is broken,” she added. “I miss her very much.”

Bratcher and Michalski had lived together for years on the first floor of the two-flat on Melrose, and the daughter was the building’s landlord, neighbors said.

Resized_20230201_140149.jpeg

Sabrina Watson (left) with her grandmother Regina Michalski.

Provided

Bratcher was arrested nearly a dozen times between 1997 and 2005, according to Cook County court records. She also goes by the name Eva Michalski, but in all but one case, she used variations Eva Bratcher in the records.

In January 2006, she pleaded guilty to felony counts of forgery in two cases, records show. She was handed down concurrent sentences of six months in the Cook County Jail and two years’ probation. Later in 2006, she was found guilty of misdemeanor counts of battery and violating an order of protection in two other cases, and she was sentenced to concurrent, two-year probation terms.

Bratcher completed her probation sentences without fulfilling 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, though she had accrued a significant amount of time served.

She has also faced a range of charges that were dropped, including battery, assault, retail theft, criminal damage to property, and reckless and disorderly conduct.

One of Regina Michalski’s other grandchildren, Diane Michalski, told the Sun-Times that she used to live above her grandmother at the West Melrose address. Diane Michalski said her grandmother was a Polish immigrant who spent most of her life working for Motorola.

“I remember being a kid, and she’d bring some work home and show me the little technology and all the little intricate details that she had to do for her job,” Michalski said. “I mean, if you want to talk about women in STEM, she was it.”

The Latest
The circumstances of the shooting were unknown.
The man was discovered Sunday morning with multiple gunshot wounds.
Preliminary evidence indicates multiple gunmen opened fire Sunday night in the 4500 block of South Evans Avenue, according to Chicago police.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a new rule that may ease small business owners’ minds on offering the popular service.