Four bodies were found, including that of a 5-year-old boy, in an Oak Lawn home that police suspect was set ablaze early Wednesday morning during a murder-suicide.
Authorities said a fire official on his way to work responded to a 911 call about 5:15 a.m. and saw a man in a car in the home’s garage in the 9800 block of 51st Avenue.
“He opened the door and observed an adult male in the driver’s seat take his own life with the use of a shotgun,” Oak Lawn Police Chief Mike Murray said.
That man has been identified as John Conta Jr., 36, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. Conta Jr., who lived at the home, was pronounced at scene at 10:20 a.m., a representative for the medical examiner’s office said.
John Conta Sr., thought to be is in his 60s, was pronounced at the scene at 5:40 a.m. Janice Conta, 68, and 5-year-old Matthew Meier were later pronounced at the Stein Institute, according to the medical examiner’s office.
Authorities said all four people were related and lived in the home, but they did not provide further details.
The bodies of Meier, Conta Sr., and Janice Conta, all apparently victims of gunshot wounds, were found inside the home, authorities said.
“The shotgun was recovered. That was the only weapon that we found,” Murray said.
The boy’s body was not found until about 4:20 p.m., hours after the other bodies had been located.
The firefighter who witnessed the suicide was allowed to take the rest of the day off.
“What he encountered this morning was horrific, so we have removed him from the scene, and we’re watching him very closely to make sure he’s doing OK,” Fire Chief George Sheets said.
Sheets said the incident “is certainly a tragedy” that “impacts the family, the neighborhood, the community, the firefighters, it impacts everyone. Our hearts and prayers go out to the family members of the victims.”
Susan Morg, a secretary at St. Linus Parish, said the woman who was killed volunteered regularly at the church.
“I have known her for several years,” Morg said. The woman and her husband had a son, a daughter and a grandson, she said.
“They were wonderful people. They were really, really good people who would do anything for anybody,” Morg said.
Contributing: Tina Sfondeles, Jon Seidel and Susan DeMar Lafferty