An Illinois man who suspected his girlfriend had contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, shot and killed her and then himself, authorities said.
Both tested negative for the disease.
At about 8 p.m. Thursday, deputies from the Will County Sheriff’s Office went to a residence in Lockport Township, about 30 miles southwest of Chicago, to conduct a welfare check.
All of the doors and windows of the residence were locked from the inside, according to the sheriff’s office. Deputies and fire personnel forced entry into the home.
Patrick Jesernik, 54, and Cheryl Schriefer, 59, were found dead in separate rooms of the residence with obvious signs of trauma to their heads, the sheriff’s office said in a statement. The couple were not married but had been together for eight years, according to Cathy Hoffmeyer, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.
A loaded revolver, containing two spent shell casings and three live rounds, was found near Jesernik’s body, the sheriff’s office said. There were no signs of a struggle, and the home was neat and orderly.
A man at the scene told deputies he was contacted by Jesernik’s parents, who asked him to check on their son because they had not heard from him.
“A check of the address was conducted by detectives which showed no previous calls for service in regards to domestic disputes,” the sheriff’s office statement said. “A check of both deceased individuals was also conducted which showed very limited police contact.”
Family members later arrived on scene and told authorities that Jesernik had been scared that he and Schriefer had contracted COVID-19, and that Schriefer was tested two days earlier, the sheriff’s office said. The family members said Schriefer had been having a hard time breathing and stated that to their knowledge, she had not received her test results.
Autopsies conducted Friday on Jesernik and Schriefer determined they both died as a result of a single gunshot wound to the head, the sheriff’s office said. Schriefer’s death was ruled a homicide. Jesernik died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and his death was ruled as a suicide, according to the sheriff’s office. Both Jesernik and Schriefer tested negative for the COVID-19 virus.
The sheriff’s office said during the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of service calls that deputies have been responding to involve domestic disputes and crisis intervention.
“As a reminder, if anyone is a victim of a domestic violence situation, the Will County Courthouse remains open for individuals in need of obtaining an order of protection,” the sheriff’s office said.
The Will County Courthouse is open Monday thru Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to noon for the issuance of orders of protection.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.