Man suspected of burying mom, sister in backyard arrested

Apr 7, 2022, 3:51 PM | Updated: 4:04 pm

LYONS, Ill. (AP) — A man suspected of concealing the deaths of his mother and sister nearly a year after their bodies were found buried in the backyard of their suburban Chicago house has been arrested on felony charges, officials announced on Thursday.

Lyons Police Chief Thomas Herion said Michael Lelko, 45, will be formally charged with two felony counts of concealment of a death. He said a federal investigation also is ongoing that could lead to federal charges connected to his alleged cashing of his mother’s monthly $1,000 Social Security checks for years after she died.

Herion said Lelko was not charged in the deaths of 79-year-old Jean Lelko and 44-year-old Jennifer Lelko, since the medical examiner’s office could not determine how either one died.

Herion said Michael Lelko’s 41-year-old brother remains the subject of an investigation but as of Thursday afternoon he had not been charged. Both were in custody on Thursday and Herion said if John Lelko was not charged within 48 hours he would be released from custody. Herion said John Lelko could face obstruction charges because he initially told police that his mother and sister were alive and living elsewhere, even though he knew they were both dead.

Thursday’s announcement comes about eight months after police discovered the bodies in the back yard during a well-being check at the residence. Both bodies had been buried in plastic tubs that had been sealed with duct tape.

Herion said Michael Lelko told police that his mother had died in 2015 after his sister pushed her down the stairs and that he buried his sister in the yard in 2019 after she became ill and died. He said Lelko said the sister had died of COVID-19, though Herion said he didn’t believe COVID-19 existed in 2019, and Illinois officials have said they believe the first COVID-19 death in Illinois was in March 2020.

“When I interviewed Michael, he admitted that he buried his mother and his sister in the yard,” Herion said. “John did not give any statements pertaining to whether he participated in that.”

Herion said charges were not filed for several months because the bodies were not positively identified until this year. Both men, were taken into custody when the bodies were found but were released without being charged.

The charges mark the final chapter in the bizarre story that began with a check of the house, located in the community of Lyons, about 14 miles (22.53 kilometers) southwest of Chicago, after it was determined there was no running water. Herion said there were no operable toilets at the home, and several bags of urine and feces were found inside.

Herion said items such as Star Wars toys were stacked up to the ceiling at the time the bodies were found, and the home was so cluttered that the brothers climbed in and out through windows.

It could not be immediately determined if Michael Lelko had retained an attorney. Messages were left with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office and the Lyons Police Department.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

This image filed May 15, 2019 in federal court as part of a forfeiture complaint by the U.S. attorn...
Associated Press

Long-missing Alexander Hamilton letter put on public display

BOSTON (AP) — A letter written by Alexander Hamilton in 1780 and believed stolen decades ago from the Massachusetts state archives is going back on display — though not exactly in the room where it happened. The founding father’s letter will be the featured piece at the Commonwealth Museum’s annual July Fourth exhibit, Secretary of […]
7 hours ago
FILE - More than 100 opponents of the Republican redistricting plans vow to fight the maps at a ral...
Associated Press

Abortion ruling puts spotlight on gerrymandered legislatures

In overturning a half-century of nationwide legal protection for abortion, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Roe v. Wade had been wrongly decided and that it was time to “return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives” in the states. Whether those elected officials are truly representative of the people is a matter […]
7 hours ago
Nate Looney poses in front of a painting at the BAR Center at the Beach Thursday, June 16, 2022, in...
Associated Press

Black Jewish leader works to boost community, inclusiveness

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nate Looney is a Black man who grew up in Los Angeles, a descendant of enslaved people from generations ago. He’s also an observant, kippah-wearing Jew. But he doesn’t always feel welcome in Jewish spaces — his skin color sometimes elicits questioning glances, suspicions and hurtful assumptions. Once, he walked into […]
7 hours ago
FILE - President Joe Biden speaks during an Independence Day celebration on the South Lawn of the W...
Associated Press

From one July Fourth to the next, a steep slide for Biden

WASHINGTON (AP) — Last Fourth of July, President Joe Biden gathered hundreds of people outside the White House for an event that would have been unthinkable for many Americans the previous year. With the coronavirus in retreat, they ate hamburgers and watched fireworks over the National Mall. Although the pandemic wasn’t over yet, Biden said, […]
7 hours ago
Chief Nurse Executive Danielle Maness stands in an empty examination room that was used to perform ...
Associated Press

After abortion ruling, clinic staff grapple with trauma

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Danielle Maness has squeezed the hands of hundreds of anxious patients lying on tables in the procedure room, now empty. She’s recorded countless vital signs and delivered scores of snacks to the recovery area, now silent. Peering into each darkened room at West Virginia ‘s only abortion clinic, the chief nurse […]
7 hours ago
FILE - Lina Khan, nominee for Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission, speaks during a Senate ...
Associated Press

Ruling could dampen government efforts to rein in Big Tech

The Supreme Court’s latest climate change ruling could dampen efforts by federal agencies to rein in the tech industry, which went largely unregulated for decades as the government tried to catch up to changes wrought by the internet. In the 6-3 decision that was narrowly tailored to the Environmental Protection Agency, the court ruled Thursday […]
7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
...
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
Man suspected of burying mom, sister in backyard arrested