.

Police Say Family Members Found in Fire Ruins Were Gunned Down

Oak Lawn police investigate apparent murder-suicide that claimed the lives of four family members. Watch the extended press conference.

Oak Lawn Police and Fire Department press conference regarding fire and apparent murder-suicide on Feb. 26, 2014.
Oak Lawn Police and Fire Department press conference regarding fire and apparent murder-suicide on Feb. 26, 2014.

Oak Lawn police are investigating an apparent murder-suicide in which the bodies of four family members, including a child, were recovered from the smoldering ruins of a home that burned to the ground early Wednesday morning.

Police said a couple in their 60s and a 5-year-old boy found inside the charred house had been gunned down.

Another family member reportedly killed himself in front of an off-duty deputy fire chief who arrived at the scene to help his fellow firefighters.

The night before the fire, family gathered at the home to celebrate the child's birthday.

Watch video of the Wednesday afternoon press conference.

Oak Lawn Police Chief Michael Murray said a call of smoke coming from a house in the 9800 block of South 51st Avenue was received at 5:16 a.m. 

The deputy fire chief, a longtime fire department employee, heard the dispatch on his way to work and was at the house within seconds of the first dispatch. 

Murray said the fire deputy entered the garage where he encountered a man sitting inside a car. When the firefighter opened the car door, the man took his own life with a shotgun. No other weapons were found in the home.

Firefighters found a second male victim in a hallway and were able to pull him outside. When the fire grew too hot to look for other occupants, firefighters exited the house and began knocking back the flames. 

READ: Third Body Found in Rubble of Fatal Oak Lawn House Fire

Both the roof and main level of the house collapsed into the basement before the fire was extinguished. Investigators and fire crews remained at the scene throughout the day as a crane dug through the debris looking for the reported missing family members and evidence.

The bodies of the woman and child were recovered from the basement later in the afternoon. Both were believed to have been on the home's main level before it collapsed into the basement.

The 5-year-old boy was found in the rubble of what had been the first-floor middle bedroom.

"There is no threat to the community,” the police chief said. “This is believed to be a single incident that happened inside this house.”

Oak Lawn Fire Chief George Sheets described the morning blaze as a “hectic fire.” Firefighters’ efforts were hampered by a frozen hydrant and other weather conditions.

“This is certainly a tragedy. It impacts the community, police and firefighters,” Sheets said. “What my employee encountered in the garage this morning was horrific.”

Sheets told Patch that family members had gathered at the home the night before to celebrate the young boy's birthday. 

All four bodies were brought to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office where autopsies will be performed Thursday to determine the cause of death, Murray said.

Neighbor Barney Nolan described the couple as wholesome people who kept one of the nicest homes on the block. The couple lived in the house about 20 years, and had an adult son and daughter, both in their late 20s to early 30s.

The couple’s son had recently been staying at the house. Their grandson was also a frequent visitor, the neighbor said.

“I just saw the boy outside a few days ago,” Nolan said. “It’s really sad.”


Dan February 27, 2014 at 07:45 AM
Coward.......
eric kucin February 27, 2014 at 09:02 AM
I'm so glad the fire didn't spread to other homes and that you are ok Mr. Nolan!
Pat Cannon February 27, 2014 at 11:26 AM
now let's test the man in the car and find out if there was drugs in his system..SSRI's is what I would look for...but Media wouldn't speak of it if there was big pharma drugs in his system..that's a huge No No..just blame the gun.. any who RIP Innocent people...
Enough said February 27, 2014 at 12:03 PM
The man will be meeting his own jury. Prayers for strength and healing to the remaining family members and police and fire that will have to deal with the fallout. No winners here
Dan February 27, 2014 at 03:13 PM
like i said coward. hope he rots in hell......
Ro February 27, 2014 at 03:33 PM
Well , if he did have antidepressants that means he was doing something about his condition. I am so tired of people who think people who have depression or PTSD are out there ready to do harm to others. Educate yourself and stop making judgements on issues you apparently know nothing about . This stigma has to be brought to a halt and the only way to do it is with education and not misinformation .
anthony February 27, 2014 at 05:35 PM
yea i would say there is something wrong with the conditions in a county where guys feel compelled to kill their family and burn down their own house at a rate of 3 times a month Forget the dead lets talk living everyone needs to lighten up a bit
Jacob Matthews February 27, 2014 at 08:07 PM
Lol, I think patch is feeling threatened.
Jacob Matthews February 27, 2014 at 08:25 PM
Read your bible ......."thou shall NOT bear false witness" .......thou shall not remove a post unbecoming to the editor
Concerned Resident February 28, 2014 at 09:49 AM
Question: no body neighbors anybody heard anything coming from the home prior to the fire? Major tragedy major losses so sad and disturbing!
BertH February 28, 2014 at 11:07 PM
Where's the OBAMA comments?

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something