Lyons police open homicide investigation after brothers claim mother, sister buried in backyard

LYONS, Ill. (WLS) -- Lyons police are investigating after a pair of brothers claimed they had buried their mother and sister in the backyard of their home.

Police said they responded to the home in the 3900-block of Center Avenue after the water company alerted them that water hadn't been used at the home for more than a year. Gas and electric use had also been minimal.

Upon arriving they found a severe case of hoarding. The home contained jars filled with urine and piles possessions throughout the two story home, as well as multiple cats and dogs running around the property.

"It was multiple liters of urine," said Lyons Police Chief Thomas Herion. "There was no running toilets. Every room, the front door, the backdoor were completely barricaded with debris, boxes."

Neighbors also mentioned they hadn't seen one of the brothers who lives there in days.

"Sunday to today," Herion said. "We know it's a million degrees in there, so started getting concerned maybe they had passed."

"They tried talking to him," said neighbor Martha Aranda-Castaneda. "He didn't want them going in the house but they needed to check on his German shepherd. They came back out right away and put on full hazmat suits."

Police said they spoke to two men who lived there, brothers, who they said suffer from mental illness. They told police they used a side window in the home to come and go as the doors wouldn't open.

"He said he had another brother upstairs who had some health issues," said Herion.

As police treated him, the brother known by neighbors told police his mother and sister had also lived with them. They also told police that their mother and sister had died and were buried in the back yard.

"Where are they? He indicated they were buried in the back yard, he said, 'Oh they got sick, they died and we just buried them in the backyard,'" Herion said.

According to police, the brothers claimed their mother, who was in her 70s, had died of COVID in 2019, but police became suspicious since COVID-19 was not detected in the U.S. until the spring of 2020.

The brothers also claimed their 44-year-old sister had hit her head and died, and they had buried her in the back yard as well, police said.

The state of Illinois has no record of those deaths.

The brothers said their father had died in 2012 and they had cremated him.

Both brothers were taken to for physical and mental evaluation at a hospital, but have not been placed under arrest.

The Lyons Police Department is working with the Cook County State's Attorney to begin an investigation. They will also begin investigating the home's backyard, but digging is not expected to begin until Friday morning.

"Based on what we're told, at this point in time, I would be surprised if they're not there," Herion said.

"Little terrifying to think something so big happened very quietly, that nobody noticed," said Lily Gonzalez, neighbor.

Police said they are currently treating this as a homicide investigation, but cautioned the brothers could be telling the truth.
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