LYONS, Ill. (AP) — Police said Friday that they plan to excavate a suburban Chicago backyard this weekend after one of two adult brothers found living in deplorable conditions in a home told officers he had buried their mother and sister’s bodies there years ago.
Lyons Police Chief Thomas Herion said survey work was expected to begin Friday afternoon in the backyard, including taking photos and using a drone to obtain overhead footage, followed on Saturday morning by excavation work.
The investigation that now also involves the Cook County’s medical examiner’s office and state’s attorney’s office began after officers were called to conduct a wellness check Thursday at the two-story home in Lyons, 12 miles (19 kilometers) southwest of Chicago. Officers found the home without running water and filthy, filled with debris and feces, Herion said.
He said one brother told officers that their mother, who was in her 70s, had died in 2015, weeks or more after their sister had pushed her down a stairwell. The chief said the man claimed that sister then died in 2019 after an illness.
Herion said the state has no record of the women’s deaths.
“He was very detailed in how he packaged the bodies and dug the ground and where he put the bodies at, so we’re hoping to find physical evidence of the fact that these bodies are in fact there,” he said during a Friday news conference.
If bodies are found, the homicide investigation will seek to determine whether the deaths were from natural causes or from foul play, Herion said.
Although it is a felony in Illinois to either conceal any death, he said, the brothers — who are in their late 40s and early 50s — remained free Friday because authorities have so far found no evidence of bodies.
“Right now we don’t know whether there are bodies buried in the backyard or not. This is just their statements,” Herion said.
The chief said the brother who claimed to have conducted the burial said he chose to do so on the property for financial reasons.
Herion said the brothers’ father is deceased and his death was recorded with the state, but he had apparently lived elsewhere.
Officers were called to the home after a utility reported that water service wasn’t being used at the home. Gas and electric use was also minimal.
Police found that the home was without running water or working toilets, and its back door was barricaded. The home was filled with items and waste from floor to ceiling, including feces and bottles filled with urine. Multiple cats and dogs have been removed from the home, Herion said.
“This is a heavy hoarding situation in this house. I’ve never seen anything this bad,” he said.
The men, one of whom has health issues, were evaluated at a hospital and are now staying at a hotel, Herion said.