LYONS, Ill. - Police were serving a well-being check on a home in the 3900 block of Center Avenue in Lyons Thursday morning, when police say the man who lived inside told them he buried his mother and his sister in the backyard some years ago.
As of Thursday night, Lyons Police do not know whether that admission is true, but they are gearing up to start digging first thing Friday morning.
"He admitted to burying them in the backyard," said Lyons Police Chief Thomas Herion.
At 10:30 Thursday morning, a neighbor called police to do a well-being check at 3950 Center Avenue, having seen a male resident crawling out of a window.
Police went to check on the residents and found two men living in the house in squalor, with no water, electricity or gas service. Chief Tom Herion showed FOX 32 the deplorable conditions, saying that the well-being check became a rescue because the house was uninhabitable.
"We had two individuals who reside here, they had some health conditions, a heavy-hoarder type situation," said Herion. "There was no water being used at this residence for over a year."
While talking to 45 year old Michael Lelko, Herion learned that the man had buried his mother and sister in the backyard after their deaths in 2015 and 2019.
Police say Lelko’s 41-year old brother, John lived upstairs and they found him in ill health. Police entered the home in hazmat suits, removed two dogs from the house and sent the men to a hospital to be checked mentally and physically.
Martha Aranda Castaneda lives directly across the street and saw the police interacting with her neighbor.
"That's the first time I saw him [in over a year], when they took him out," she said.
"At this point we just don't know, but we treat every death investigation as a homicide because we can't go backwards, right?" said Herion. "If we treat it as 'natural causes' and we don't investigate any potential wrongdoing, it's very difficult to undo what we've done."
Herion said the two men suffer from health conditions, both physical and mental.
"He had a homeless appearance," said Castaneda.
The men, who several neighbors believe to be brothers, were treated and released from the hospital, and are right now under police surveillance.
"He was very deliberate in identifying the locations where he buried them, so a lot of the information that he has given us has been verified," said Herion.
Lyons Police have been to the home several times in the past for disturbance calls, but said none of the calls were "earth-shattering."
There are no records of any deaths from the household, according to police.
Police say it is a crime to conceal a death, a more serious crime to conceal a homicide, but the brothers are not considered suspects.
Police are bringing in archaeologists and evidence technicians to start digging in the yard to find remains and to search the house for evidence. If bodies are found, the Lelko brothers will be taken into custody while the medical examiner’s office makes a determination on cause of death.
Michael and John Lelko told FOX 32 the same story, saying they gave their relatives a burial because they could not afford a funeral.