Coronavirus fears preceded Illinois couple's murder-suicide, sheriff says

Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.

An Illinois couple is dead in a murder-suicide this week after a 54-year-old man told relatives he feared the two of them had contracted the coronavirus, authorities said.

Deputies from the Will County Sheriff’s Office went to the Lockport Township home of Patrick Jesernik and Cheryl Schriefer, 59, for a welfare check Thursday -- and found them dead in separate rooms with gunshot wounds to their heads.

The responding deputies recovered a loaded revolver with two spent shell casings and three additional rounds, according to the sheriff’s office.


The person who called police told deputies that Jesernik’s parents asked him to check on their son because they hadn’t heard from him.

“There were no signs of a struggle, and the home was neat and orderly,” authorities said in a press release, and all of the windows and doors were locked from the inside. The sheriff’s department said it had no record of domestic disputes at the address, and both Jesernik and Schriefer had had “very limited police contact.”

Family members arrived at the scene and told deputies that Jesernik was scared that he and Schriefer had both contracted COVID-19, the sheriff’s office said. Schriefer had a test done earlier in the week after reportedly having a hard time breathing -- but the family said they were not aware that she ever got the result.

Investigators said autopsies later found that Schriefer had been shot in the back of the head at close range, and Jesernik died of a self-inflicted gunshot.

The autopsies also found that neither of them had COVID-19.


The coronavirus has swept across the nation, infecting more than 300,000 Americans as of Saturday, killing more than 8,000 within the U.S. Illinois authorities reported 10,357 cases, including 243 deaths as of Saturday.

But the Will County Sheriff’s Office says the vast majority of the calls it is receiving have to do with domestic disputes. Authorities there are reminding residents that the county courthouse remains open and can issue orders of protection from Monday to Saturday.