Murder mystery: Dismembered body believed to be missing man

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Stefano Esposito

sesposito@suntimes.com

About two weeks after an Indiana woman was found dying with a gun at her side, her estranged husband, Milan Lekich, also is believed to have turned up dead.

A dismembered body was found Sunday in a Far Southeast Side garage, and it’s believed to be Lekich. The body parts werefound wrapped in plastic and a blanket in the garage about 3:20 p.m. Sunday in the 13300 block of South Avenue M, according to Chicago Police. That address is Lekich’s last known residence, according to a missing person report issued last week for him.

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.

On Monday evening, police said no arrests had been made.

Last week, 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.

Part of the search for Lekich, 51, involved trying to talk to his estranged and now-deceased wife, Teresa Jarding, who had been living in Fowler, Indiana, 100 miles south of Chicago. Jarding, 49, and Lekich married in Las Vegas in March 2013, according to court records.

Adding intrigue to the bizarre case, three months before the couple married, court records show that Jarding left her former husband of nearly 25 years. The day Jarding left — Christmas Eve 2012 — she told her former husband, Nicholas Jarding, that she was checking into a mental institution.

Instead, Nicholas Jarding, a corrections officer at Cook County Jail, later testified, she entered a “pseudo marriage” with another man, who lived at the same Hegewisch address authorities have given for Lekich.

During divorce proceedings, Nicholas Harding testified that, unbeknown to him, Teresa Jarding opened credit cards in their name. He also told a Cook County judge that his former wife had taken more than $100,000 from their shared finances.

Meanwhile, before the Jardings’ divorce was finalized, Teresa Jarding married Lekich. Three months later, Lekich went missing, according to Chicago Police.

In their search for answers about Lekich’s whereabouts, hisfamily called police in Indiana on Sept. 20, Fowler Police Officer Don Moyars said.They hadn’t heard from Milan Lekichsince June 2013,policesaid.

Moyars said police tried to speak to Jarding, but “we could never get her to come to the door.”

Family members recently created a missing person Facebook page for Lekich, pleading for information that could help investigators.

“There has been very suspicious activities [and] texts surrounding Milan’s whereabouts for the last” year, the family wrote in a Oct. 4 posting. “It was confirmed on Sept. 20th under unusual circumstances in Fowler Indiana, that he has not been the one contacting his family for this past” year.

Police in Fowler backed up part of their account. Someone sent text messages from his phone, but made no calls – a detail that Moyars found odd.

“They weren’t sure [the texts] were even from him,” Moyars said. “He always called his family on a regular basis.”

About the same time, Jarding’s family became concerned about her health and asked police to check on her. On a Sept. 24 visit, police didn’t see anything out of place, although they couldn’t get the woman to come to the door.

Later that night, Jarding was seen sitting in the dark on a couch in her home, so police forced open the door.They found a handgun beside Jarding, but it had not been fired, police said at the time. She was taken to a hospital, where she died the next day.

“She had a brain hemorrhage, and that was the cause of death,” Moyars said Monday, noting Jarding had “multiple ailments” at the time of her death.

While authorities think they solved the question of Lekich’s whereabouts, anothertwistwas recently added to the mystery.

Jarding’s mother, Nena Metoyer, 68, also is missing, police said. The Florida woman, who traveled to Indiana to take care of her ailing daughter, hasn’t been seen since August.

“We’ve got a few things we’re checking into,” Moyars said. “But we’ve got nothing substantial yet.”

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