A 42-year-old Illinois man is in custody on suspicion of murdering his girlfriend after police went to the couple's home and found signs of foul play, police said.
Donal E. Clark was charged Saturday with first-degree murder for the killing of his girlfriend, Gena Chiodo. At Clark’s first appearance in Cook County criminal court Sunday, Assistant State Attorney Angela Carlisle said that at the time of Clark's arrest, he was asleep inside the blood-splattered home he shared with Chiodo.
"They said he was arrested because of the crime scene inside the house. There was a massive amount of blood everywhere," Chiodo's close friend, Michelle Mack, told The Huffington Post.
Police did not find Chiodo's body at the couple's Calumet City home.
Outside the home, authorities said they found garbage cans with bloodied lingerie, a blood-stained rug and bath mat, broken furniture, and a plastic shower curtain covered in blood. Blood spatter was also allegedly found on a pair of Clark's shoes.
Chiodo, a 42-year-old hairdresser, was last seen on Oct. 13. Her employer contacted police and asked them to conduct a wellness check on her when she failed to show up for work.
"[Her employer was concerned] because she was [allegedly] in an abusive relationship," Mack said.
Chiodo's longtime friend, Patty Nasella, told United Press International that she believed Chiodo's relationship with Clark, whom she had been with for about 13 months, was dysfunctional.
"He was mean, cruel and abusive," Nasella said.
During police questioning, Clark allegedly told investigators that he had not seen Chiodo since Oct. 14, when they had a fight. However, following his arrest, Clark allegedly told his brother that he had woken up to find Chiodo in his arms covered in blood. He also allegedly said he would tell police where they could find her body if they cut him a deal, court documents state.
Police have yet to say whether they have recovered a murder weapon.
"We are disappointed with the judge's decision, but we respect the judge's decision," Clark's defense attorney, Michael O'Meara, told Chicago's WLS-TV. "We are in the early stages of these proceedings and at this point we just have to let the legal process take its course."
Chiodo's family members appeared in court Sunday and released a statement afterward.
"We also ask the Clark family to please help us find Gena. We beg your mercy to find Gena so we can put her to rest," the statement said.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Clark has a previous criminal record that includes convictions for residential burglary and domestic battery.
Clark is set to appear in court again Wednesday in Markham, Ill.
Meanwhile, the search for Chiodo's remains continues. People interested in joining the search effort are asked to visit the "Find Gena Chiodo" Facebook group for details on how to help.
"They are still searching. They've been out there all day. She's not been found," Mack told HuffPost.
Police ask anyone with information about this case to contact the Suburban Major Crimes Task Force at 708-425-1612 or Calumet City police at 708-868-2500.