It seemed like a regular hoarding case — a filthy house stacked with clutter — until Tom Herion, the chief of police in suburban Lyons, asked one of two brothers living in the filthy home about their mother.
“OK, where’s Mom now?” Herion asked the 45-year-old man Thursday during a conversation in the back of an ambulance as the man was being checked out.
“Mom’s buried in the backyard,” he said.
“I’m glad you took care of your mother, you took care of her and put her in a place of comfort,” Herion told the man, recalling the exchange for the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday.
“I wanted him to keep talking, I didn’t show any look of shock,” Herion said. “He might as well have told me the score to the Cubs games. It wouldn’t have mattered. I said, “OK, good. Your sister, where’s she?”
The man’s response: “She’s in the backyard, too.”
The man and his 41-year-old brother showed police exactly where the bodies were buried behind their home in the 3900 block of Center Avenue.
“They were pretty detailed about what they did to the bodies, how they packaged it and how they put the bodies in the ground,” Herion said.
The home came to the attention of authorities when public works officials noticed water had not been used at the home for more than a year.
Police conducting a well-being check Thursday morning found the tri-level home stacked with clutter to the point where the two brothers living there were using windows to come and go, police said.
“I never saw such deplorable living conditions in my life, and I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Herion said. Human feces and large containers filled with urine littered the home, he said.
Forensic investigators plan to begin digging up the yard in search of the bodies Saturday morning. Police said they expect to find human remains and the remains of several pets the brothers said also were buried in the yard.
Herion said the police department had also received a tip the mother and sister hadn’t been seen for some time.
The brothers told police they buried their mother in the yard in 2015 after their sister caused her death by pushing her down a flight of stairs.
Four years later, in 2019, the brothers buried their sister in the yard after she died, they told police.
No charges have been filed in the case. That could change if bodies are discovered, Herion said.
After being released from a local hospital following medical and psychological evaluations, the brothers returned to the scene and shared their stories with reporters.
Their sister suffered from mental illness and was prone to bouts of violence when she pushed her mother down a flight of stairs in their home, they said.
Their mother, 72, suffered a head injury but said she would be OK. It turned out to be more serious and she died a few days later, the brothers said.