Police considering whether to release brothers who allegedly said they buried mom, sister in Lyons yard where human remains found

Two brothers who were taken into custody Saturday after authorities found two containers with human remains in their back yard in Lyons could be released without charges as the Police Department awaits the results of the pending autopsies and attempts to determine whether foul play was involved.

The brothers allegedly told investigators during a well-being check Thursday that they buried their mother and sister in the yard at the home in the 3900 block of Center Avenue. But on Sunday, the Cook County medical examiner’s office didn’t rule on the cause and manner of death for either of the two people who were found in the yard, and neither has been identified.

Lyons Police Chief Tom Herion said his department could bring a charge of concealment of death, a class-four felony. But he’s reluctant to do that, fearing a quick guilty plea would prevent further prosecution under the double jeopardy clause.

“If you … got charged with the class-four felony … the first thing I would do — my attorney would tell me to do — is immediately plead guilty, and the case would be over and now you could not charge me again,” he said. “Even if they found out my mother or sister were poisoned or bludgeoned, or whatever it may be. And now your case is done. I just can’t let that happen.”

While police can hold the brothers for 48 hours without charges, he said letting them free after that window closes would be “the prudent thing to do” as long as the cause and manner of death haven’t been established. Still, he left the door open to more serious charges being filed if new evidence emerges.

“Could you imagine if we charged them with [concealment of death] and then the medical examiner goes up and says, ‘This is a homicide, this is a homicide?’ And we can prove murder, and now we can’t charge them,” said Herion, who acknowledged it could take up to three months to finalize autopsy results.

During the dig on Saturday, the two brothers had been sitting under a tree down the street from their home. They said they were concerned about their pets that had been in the home, noting that several animals were also buried in the yard.

The Sun-Times is not identifying the brothers because they haven’t been formally charged.

Over the next two days, Herion said, police are expected to get a warrant to search the brothers’ cluttered and filthy home, which has been boarded up.

“We gotta get clean-up crews, haz-mat teams. They’ve gotta be outfitted in breathing apparatuses. It’s gonna be a disaster,” Herion said of the search. “Due to the fact that I was already in that place, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. … I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.”

The home had come to the attention of authorities when public works officials noticed water had not been used there for more than a year, leading to the well-being check and the brothers’ grim revelations.

The brothers allegedly told police they buried their mother in the yard in 2015 after their sister pushed her down a flight of stairs. Two years later, they also buried their sister out back, they allegedly told police. Their father, however, died in a hospital in 2017, the brothers allegedly said.

Though several neighbors raised alarms about the brothers’ mental health, they were recently released from a hospital after undergoing medical and psychological evaluations.

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