Police in suburban Chicago prepare to excavate the backyard of a house where two hamster brothers claimed to have buried the bodies of their mother and sister.
Excavation work was set to begin Friday morning at the 3900 block of South Center Avenue in Lyon, 14 miles southwest of downtown Chicago.
The case began to unfold on Thursday, according to local police, when officers were called to a house on South Center Avenue to conduct a health check on two brothers, both in their 40s, after they hadn’t been seen for a while.
Brothers Michael and John Lelko speak to reporters outside their home in Lyon, Illinois, as police prepare to excavate the backyard in search of the bodies of their mother and sister, who they are said to have buried after their deaths
Police were called to the house on the 3900 block of South Center Avenue in Lyon for a welfare check after one of the Lelko brothers had not been seen for some time
A utility company also reported that no water had been used in the house, raising concerns that the resident had died.
Police found that the house was filled from top to bottom with rubbish and debris, including bottles of urine, feces everywhere, and no running water or working toilets.
Several cats and dogs roamed the property.
“It was several liters of urine,” Lyon police chief Thomas Herion said ABC 7 Chicago. “Every room, the front door, the back door were completely barricaded with debris, boxes.”
The brothers, who were said to have had physical and mental health problems, had to leave their home through a window because of the clutter inside blocking the doors.
Neighbor Martha Aranda Castaneda told: Fox 32 that she hadn’t seen one of the Lelkos in over a year.
“That’s the first time I saw him when…” [police] got him out,” she said.
Police said they interviewed the two brothers and learned that their mother passed away in 2019 and that her death may have been an accident involving their sister, who also died at the time.
Later speaking to reporters, the brothers, identified as John and Michael Lelko, claimed that their mentally ill sister pushed their mother down the stairs in 2015, and that the elderly woman, in her 70s, eventually succumbed to a stroke. WGN.
Police said they found the residence full of trash and bottles of urine; it had no running water or working toilets
Tents are being set up outside Lelko’s residence in preparation for Friday’s dig in search of the human remains
The Lelko brothers also said their sister died of COVID-19 in 2019, raising police suspicion as the first known cases of the virus in the US were not reported until January 2020.
Police said the brothers told them they buried their mother and sister in their backyard among animal carcasses because of fears of COVID-19, as well as to save on funeral costs.
The state of Illinois has no records of those deaths.
The Lelkos were taken to a hospital for medical treatment but have not been arrested or charged with any crime.
They were later discharged and placed in a hotel, but walked to their home, still dressed in blue hospital gowns, to speak with reporters after watching television news reports of the impending dig in their backyard.
Police said they are currently treating the case as a murder investigation for the purpose of gathering evidence