An Indiana woman central to a bizarre murder mystery with Chicago ties committed suicide, a coroner said Wednesday.
Teresa Jarding died of “acute mixed-drug toxicity” and her manner of death was suicide, Tippecanoe County (Ind.) Coroner Donna Hart Avolt said. But she refused to elaborate on the results of toxicology testing on Jarding’s remains.
“This is a family that is just reeling from the shock of everything that has gone on,” Avolt said. “So I will not elaborate any more than that.”
She said she promised the family she wouldn’t say anything further. “And also, I don’t have to,” she told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Police in Fowler, Ind., found the remains of a white woman Saturday at Jarding’s former residence. That revelation came after Cook County authorities identified Tuesday the remains of Milan Lekich — a man Jarding purportedly married in Las Vegas. They were found Oct. 5 in Lekich’s garage in Hegewisch on Chicago’s Southeast Side.
Authorities wanted to question Jarding, 49, about Lekich’s disappearance. But when they finally made contact with Jarding at her home on Sept. 24, she was near death with a gun by her side, Fowler police said last week. Jarding was taken to an Indiana hospital, where she died the next day.
Soon after she died, authorities learned that her mother — who was in town from Florida to take care of the ailing Jarding — had been missing since August.
Fowler police would not say if the remains found at Jarding’s house belonged to her 68-year-old mother, Nena Metoyer. But they did say that the woman died from a gunshot wound to the head and classified her death as a homicide. Further DNA testing is needed to determine her identity, Fowler police said in an emailed statement.
The dismembered body of Lekich, 51, was found wrapped in plastic and a blanket in a garage in the 13300 block of South Avenue M, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office and Chicago Police.
An autopsy found Lekich died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head and his death has been ruled a homicide, according to a spokesman for the medical examiner’s office.
A woman who called police reported a strange smell coming from the garbage in the garage of the Hegewisch home, according to a police source.
The woman looked inside the garbage bag and found the man’s remains. Police issued a missing person report for Lekich that said he had last been seen in June 2013 and possibly could be in Florida or Indiana.
According to that report, Lekich’s last known residence was on the block where his remains were later found.
Part of the search for Lekich involved trying to talk to Jarding, who had moved to Fowler, about 100 miles south of Chicago. Jarding and Lekich married in Las Vegas in March 2013, according to Nevada court records. However, Cook County court records indicate Jarding was in the midst of a still-pending divorce at the time.
Chicago Police said Tuesday morning no arrests had been made in connection with Lekich’s death.