A man has been arrested and charged with burying his mother and sister in plastic containers in the backyard of their suburban Chicago home, police say.
Michael Lelko, 45, was charged with two counts of concealment of death/moving body, according to court documents filed in Cook County Circuit Court.
Lelko has not been charged in the deaths of his mother, Jean Lelko, and sister, Jennifer Lelko, because the medical examiner’s office could not determine the cause of death due to the deterioration of the bodies, said Lyon Police Chief Thomas Herion told CNN.
Lelko’s brother, John Lelko, was also taken into custody but was not formally charged and was later released.
The medical examiner did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Herion said federal law enforcement is considering whether criminal charges are warranted because the mother’s Social Security checks were cashed for a period after her death.
Herion said the amount involved is approximately $75,000 to $80,000. It is not known if the brothers have retained the services of a lawyer.
Police conducted a wellness check visit to the Lelkos’ home on August 26, 2021, as water had not been used in the home in the past year, a court document says.
After speaking with neighbors at the time, police came across Michael Lelko walking down the street, according to court documents.
Lelko told police they hadn’t had running water in a year and that his brother had a heart condition, according to Herion.
Officers attempted to enter the premises after Lelko gave them permission, but soon discovered the only way in and out was to crawl through a window, Herion said.
“Officers attempted to enter the residence, but the entrances were almost completely blocked with boxes and trash,” court documents said. “Due to the deplorable state of the residence, officers were only able to enter the residence through a window.”
“The doors were barricaded with debris,” Herion said. “I could see fleas, bugs, and piles from floor to ceiling, and I could smell urine and feces.”
Herion said police eventually entered the house wearing biohazard suits.
After calling medical attention for Lelko’s brother John, Herion asked Michael where his mother and sister were.
While in the ambulance, Lelko told officers he buried his mother in the backyard when she died in 2015, court documents show.
Michael Lelko continued to deposit his mother’s Social Security checks and two Citi Bank surveillance videos show him making withdrawals from his mother’s account, according to court documents.
“He said, ‘We buried my mum in the backyard,’ and when I asked him how his sister was doing, he said, ‘In 2019 she came down with Covid, she got sick and she passed away,'” Herion said. The first confirmed death from Covid-19 in the United States dates back to February 2020.
He then told Herion that his sister had also been buried in the backyard.
After Lelko showed police on August 26 where the bodies were buried, officers from the Lyon Police Department and Cook County Medical Examiners attended the scene and “digged up 2 large plastic containers.” , according to court documents.
“Human remains were found in each of the plastic containers and DNA analysis was performed,” according to the documents.
Michael Lelko was released on bail and placed under electronic monitoring, Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said.