Police arrest man after he allegedly buried his mother and sister in the backyard and continued to cash social security checks

Michael Lelko, 45, has been charged with two felony counts of concealment of death/body movement, according to court documents filed in Cook County Circuit Court.

Lelko was not charged in the deaths of his mother, Jean Lelko, and his sister, Jennifer Lelko, because the medical examiner’s office was unable to determine a cause of death due to the deterioration of the bodies, the police chief of Lelko told CNN. Lyon, Thomas Herion.

Lelko’s brother, John Lelko, was also arrested but was not formally charged and was later released.

The medical examiner did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Herion said federal police are investigating whether the criminal charges are warranted, because the mother’s Social Security checks were cashed for a period after her death.

Herion said the amount in question is approximately $75,000 to $80,000. It is unclear if the brothers have retained an attorney.

Police conducted a wellness check visit to the Lelkos’ home on Aug. 26, 2021 because no water had been used in the home for the past year, according to a court document.

After speaking with neighbors at the time, police came across Michael Lelko walking down the street, according to court documents.

Lelko told police they hadn’t had running water in a year and that her brother had heart disease, according to Herion.

Officers attempted to enter the facility after Lelko gave them permission, but soon discovered the only way in and out was to crawl through a window, Herion said.

“Officers attempted to enter the residence, but the entrances were almost completely blocked with boxes and debris,” court documents say. “Due to the deplorable condition of the residence, officers were only able to enter the residence through a window.”

“The doors were blocked with debris,” Herion said. “I could see fleas, bugs, and piles from floor to ceiling, and I can smell urine and feces.”

Herion said police eventually entered the house wearing biohazard suits.

After calling medical attention for Lelko’s brother John, Herion asked Michael where his mother and sister were.

While in the ambulance, Lelko told officers that he buried his mother in the backyard when she passed away in 2015, according to court documents.

Michael Lelko continued to deposit his mother’s Social Security checks and two Citi Bank surveillance videos show him making withdrawals from his mother’s account, according to court documents.

“He said, ‘We buried my mom in the backyard,’ and when I asked him how his sister was, he said, ‘In 2019, she got covid, got sick and died,'” Herion said. The first confirmed death from Covid-19 in the US was in February 2020.

He then told Herion that his sister was also buried in the backyard.

After Lelko showed police Aug. 26 where the bodies were buried, officers from the Lyons Police Department and Cook County Medical Examiners went to the scene and “discovered 2 large plastic containers,” the police say. court documents.

“Human remains were found in each of the plastic containers and DNA analysis was performed,” according to the documents.

Michael Lelko was released on bond and placed under electronic surveillance, Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said.

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