CHICAGO (FOX 32 / STMW) - Chicago Police said Friday there were no signs that anyone had ransacked a house where six people, including two young boys, had been slain, and that the doors of the Gage Park neighborhood home had been locked from inside.
The victims—two men, two women and two boys ages 10 and 13, three generations of the same family—were found slain Thursday afternoon on the Southwest Side after police checked on the well-being of a man who didn’t show up to work for days, authorities said.
Family members identified the victims as Noe Martinez and his wife, Rosa; their adult children, Noe Jr. and Herminia; and Herminia’s two boys, Alexis and Leonardo.
Officers were called to the brick bungalow in the 5700 block of South California just after 1 p.m. The victims were found “in different locations” in the home, police said Friday morning.
“This is a complex investigation, we are working meticulously,” Chicago Police Chief of Detectives Eugene Roy said at a morning press conference.
There were no signs that anyone forced their way into the house, nor was the house ransacked, Roy said. He declined to say whether the victims had been stabbed, but said there were no signs of gunfire in the home. Media reports said some of the victims had been beaten to death.
Roy said the victims, killed between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday afternoon, had not been tied up as some media initially reported.
A man who works at a Chicago maintenance company called 911 to check on the house because a co-worker who lived there had not come to work since Tuesday.
“He was just a really great guy,” the man who made the call told the Chicago Sun-Times.
One officer who arrived at the house told a 911 operator: “We have people passed out, don’t know if they’re dead or what.”
The officer said they would have to make a “forced entry,” according to a recording of the radio traffic.
“So far we can just see one, but the neighbors say there’s about six people living there,” the officer said.
Later, he added: “Send a sarge over here. This is a bloody mess.”
Escalante told reporters at the scene he did not think there was an immediate threat to the surrounding community, although additional patrols were sent to the neighborhood.
“It’s very probable this is all the same family inside,” he said.
Initial reports were that all of the victims were stabbed, but Escalante would not provide details on how the victims were killed.
“We are taking our time going through the residence,” he said. “We’ll have the street closed off for quite a while this evening.”
A police source said detectives were investigating whether the killings were the result of a domestic dispute.
A relative of the family said they seemed happy.
“They were a normal family. Everything was fine,” Noemi Martinez, 29, told AP from Dallas during a phone interview in Spanish. She said her husband was a nephew and cousin of the home’s residents.
Martinez said the father worked at a factory in Chicago and the mother was a housewife. They were originally from the Mexican state of Guanajuato, and had lived in Chicago for about a decade.
In a text message to the Chicago Sun-Times, Martinez said: “They were a very loving family that never had any problems with anyone.”
“They enjoyed going to Mexico every year in May,” she texted as she headed to Chicago from Texas on Thursday night. “They were always together for shopping or dinning out. Very close.”
“We are in disbelief that anyone could do something so despicable. We ask for prayer,” Martinez said.
The family has set up a gofundme page to help send the victims’ remains back to Mexico for burial.
Markita Williams, a neighbor, said the family had lived in the home for at least three years.
The family included a woman with two sons, who were grade school age, and her parents, Williams said. She said the woman was separated or divorced from her husband, who has since gone home to Mexico.
Williams said she was unaware of any problems and didn’t recall police being called there before.
At noon Wednesday, Williams said she knocked on her neighbors’ door because she noticed the grandfather’s van parked on the street and was worried it might be towed—because the city was due to do some street repairs.
“I didn’t get an answer,” Williams said. She noticed something else unusual—the curtains were all closed. “They keep their curtains open all the time,” Williams said.
She added that she had looked out her window about 5 p.m. Wednesday and noticed that the van still hadn’t been moved.
Another neighbor, David Lopez, has lived about two blocks north of the crime scene since 1997.
“It’s sad to see,” Lopez said. “It seems like instead of getting better, things around here are getting worse.”
As more friends learned of what happened, they struggled to understand.
"No problems, no drugs, no nothing. This family is clean, no problem," said family friend Susana Luna.
Two days ago, friends of the older boy said he was acting a little strange.
"I saw him (Leo) two days ago, and the Monday he had an early dismissal and I don't know why, but two days before he was actually very kinda sad," said Aaron Villazana.
"It's like shock for me cause I haven't had a friend got killed, it's really sad, it's really sad," Emmanuel Hernandez said.