A family of four was fatally shot in a sleepy Illinois town. Now their suspected killer is dead

A funeral aid has been set up for the the Rolon-Bartolomei Family  (Bryana Bartolomei/GoFundMe)
A funeral aid has been set up for the the Rolon-Bartolomei Family (Bryana Bartolomei/GoFundMe)

A quiet community just outside of Chicago was turned upside down when a couple, their two young sons and three dogs were found shot dead inside their home.

Police were called in for a welfare check at the home in Romeoville, Illinois, on Sunday morning.

Officers arrived to find the bodies of Alberto Rolon, 38, Zoraida Bartolomei, 32, their two boys, aged 7 and 10, and their dogs.

Investigators determined that the victims died by homicide.

The alleged killer and motive for the horror attack remained a mystery until Wednesday when police revealed that a car linked to a person of interest had bee spotted by a licence plate reader in Catoosa, Oklahoma.

Police attempted to pull the car over, but – after a brief chase – the vehicle crashed and burst into flames.

The suspect Nathaniel Huey Jr was then found inside dead from a gunshot wound. A woman in the passenger seat was also shot and taken to hospital in a critical condition.

Later identified as Ermalinda Palomo, the woman passed away from her injuries.

Here is everything we know about the Rolon-Bartolomei family case:

‘Not a murder suicide’

Romeoville police were dispatched on Sunday (17 September) to check on the Rolon-Bartolomei family after relatives shared concern that one of the parents didn’t turn up for work that day.

In a press conference on Monday, police said family members called several times throughout the day to check on the adult, but there was no response.

Just before 9pm Sunday, officers carried out a welfare check at the family’s home on the residential 500 block of Concord Avenue.

The family of four were found dead of gunshot wounds – along with their three dogs.

Authorities believe the murders took place between 9pm Saturday and 5am Sunday.

“We do not believe the offender is among the victims. It is not a murder-suicide,” Deputy Chief Burne said at the time.

Suspects in fiery crash

Two suspects were sought by police for the murders of the family of four, authorities said on Wednesday.

Nathaniel Huey Jr, 31, of Streamwood, Illinois, and Ermalinda Palomo, 50, were identified as “persons of interest” early in the slayings.

When officers managed to locate and tried to stop the vehicle linked to Huey in Oklahoma, it sped away, crashed and caught on fire. Officers on the scene reportedly “heard two noises believed to be gunshots,” Chief Burne said.

Officers found the man fatally shot and deceased in the driver’s seat. The woman, who was in the passenger seat, was taken to hospital in critical condition and later pronounced dead.

Police are yet to confirm the identity of the woman who is described as a person of interest in the case.

John Paul Ivec, an attorney representing her family, identified the woamn as Ermalinda Palomo to ABC News.

Neighbours have said Palomo and Huey lived in Streamwood together for about the past six years.

Palomo’s daughter Christina Espinoza, 25, has spoken out to say that Huey was a “very dangerous man”.

Nathaniel Huey in mug shot (Romeoville police department)
Nathaniel Huey in mug shot (Romeoville police department)

Following Wednesday’s update, Deputy Chief Burne did not say what the relationship was between Huey and the family, but said evidence “has shown us a nexus between our suspect and the victims, as well as a possible motive”.

Palomo’s daughter has since spoken up and said Huey was a “very dangerous man” and “a huge manipulator”.

As reported by NBC News, Cristiana Espinoza, 25, said when she first met Huey “he wasn’t too bad of a guy,” but a few months ago “something switched”.

She added: “He was shutting all of us out, including my mom, and now this.

“He started becoming suspicious... keeping to himself, staying in the garage. He started not being himself, pushing us all away, even my mom.”

Attorney John Paul Ivec toldABC 7, that although Palomo was identified as a person of interest “she's a victim just like the Romeoville family's a victim.”

‘Their kids were the sweetest most innocent angels’

The loss of the Rolon-Bartolomei family has shocked many friends and family members – with Bartolomei’s sister Bryana stepping forward and sharing her heartache with the community.

“I want to know what happened to my nephews, my sister, her husband and WHY?” Bartolomei’s sister Bryana wrote in a heartbreaking Facebook post.

In the description of a GoFundMe, Bryana wrote: “This fundraiser has been created with the aim of helping the Rolon-Bartolomei family with funeral expenses, as well as to create awareness of this ongoing case. Zoraida Bartolomei, Alberto Rolon, their kids Adriel & Diego (ages 10 & 7) were involved in a horrific crime that took their lives and shattered countless others.”

Bryana said her sister and brother-in-law had just brought their first home together and described the children as “the sweetest most innocent angels who could hug your worries away.”

“The world is going to be a much dimmer place without them,” she added.

She also pleaded for anyone with information on the killings to contact police.

 (Bryana Bartolomei/Facebook)
(Bryana Bartolomei/Facebook)

The post was met with comments from the community sharing their condolences.

“We know her and your parents from church, we are so saddened by this horrible news. Prayers for you all,” one user said.

Another wrote: “My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.”

Neighbours were also grappling with the death of the family.

Lynn Phillips, who lives one door down from the home, told The Chicago Sun Times on Monday: “I’ve been crying on and off all day.”

Although she said she didn’t know the family well, Ms Phillips said they still had a good relationship.

“It was a mom and dad and a couple of kids. The parents would be outside working the yard, and we’d wave hi and bye, that kind of thing,” Ms Phillips said.

“Nothing unusual. We all keep to ourselves.”