Man Arrested After Allegedly Burying His Mother and Sister in Backyard and Cashing Social Security Checks

An Illinois man was charged with two counts of concealment of a death/moving body after police uncovered the bodies of his mother and sister in the backyard.

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An Illinois man has been charged with two felony counts of concealment of a death/moving body, eight months after authorities unearthed the remains of his mother and sister inside plastic tubs in the backyard of their home, CNN reports

Lyons Police Chief Thomas Herion said a wellness check was conducted on Aug. 26, 2021 because the water had not been used in the home over the past year. Police spotted Michael Lelko, 45, nearby after speaking with neighbors. Lelko allowed them to enter the residence, but police couldn’t due to the door being blocked by debris and boxes. 

“The doors were barricaded with debris,” Herion said. “I could see fleas and bugs and piles from floor to ceiling, and I can smell urine and feces.” The only way police were able to get inside was by crawling through a window. Authorities eventually returned to the home in biohazard suits. 

Lelko admitted his 79-year-old mother Jean was buried in the backyard after she passed away in 2015. “He said, ‘We buried my mom in the backyard,’ and when I asked him how his sister is doing, he said, ‘In 2019, she came down with Covid, she got sick and she died,” Herion said. The first confirmed Covid-related death in the United States occurred in Feb. 2020.

Lelko said his sister Jennifer, 44, was also buried in the backyard. He was taken into custody when the bodies were discovered, but eventually released. 

There’s an ongoing investigation into Lelko allegedly cashing his mother’s monthly $1,000 Social Security checks for several years, possibly totaling around $75,000 to $80,000. Surveillance footage from Citi Bank allegedly shows him withdrawing money from his mother’s account. 

Lelko was not charged with the deaths of his mother and sister since the deteriorated state of their bodies made it difficult for the medical examiner’s office to determine the cause of death. 

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