Deaths of four members of Illinois family ‘not a random act’, police say

<span>Photograph: Stacey Wescott/AP</span>
Photograph: Stacey Wescott/AP

Police in Chicago have said the deaths of four people in their Romeoville subdivision home were “not a random act”, a reversal of an earlier position that the killings were a murder-suicide.

An Illinois family of two adults, two children and three pet dogs were found dead by police on Sunday during a wellness check after a member of the family did not show up to work or respond to phone calls from relatives.

The Will county coroner identified the adults as 38-year-old Alberto Rolon and 32-year-old Zoraida Bartolomei. The couple’s two sons, believed to be aged seven and nine, were not named.

“Our detectives and crime-scene investigators have spent the last 36 hours collecting a tremendous amount of physical evidence,” Romeoville’s deputy police chief, Chris Burne, said on Tuesday in a recorded video statement. “We were able to determine that this was not a random incident, and there was no cause for a shelter-in-place order.”

Police said they believe the victims were killed sometime between Saturday night and early Sunday morning. They have offered no motive or description of an assailant, and appealed for any information, including surveillance camera footage.

The Romeoville police department directed the Guardian to its website for further updates.

The mystery surrounding the murders comes as a local news outlet reported that no federal law enforcement agencies have been called in, as would be conventional if police suspected signs of a drug cartel’s involvement.

Neighbors told Chicago’s ABC7 I-Team that the family had recently moved into the neighborhood. One described the family as “close knit” and said they “just stayed to themselves”. Neighbors also said they were confused as to why no gunshots were heard.

The outlet found from a 2019 bankruptcy filing that Rolon worked at an alcohol distributor, while his wife worked at a manufacturing plant in quality control. Their largest debts were $26,000 in student loans.

The lack of insight into the killings prompted one of the victim’s siblings to post on social media asking for any information.

“Please contact police if you know or see anything,” they wrote. “I want to know what happened to my nephews, my sister, her husband, and WHY?”

Lynn Phillips, a neighbor, told the Chicago Sun-Times the neighborhood, which is 30 miles from Chicago, was a quiet area where “nothing happens”.

“There’s nothing going on, we all just stay to ourselves. There’s no wild parties, there’s nothing,” Phillips said. “I had a garage sale last year, and that’s probably the most excitement this neighborhood has had. We just go to work, we come home and take our kids to school.”

Alfredo Rosas told the paper it was a “scary” situation. “It’s a little extreme,” he said. “I guess they were trying to prove a point or something.”

The mayor of Romeoville, John Noak, said: “It is important that we conduct a thorough investigation and we have committed our full resources to that task. The victims deserve that.”