CHICAGO - A few weeks before she was killed, Vera Kisliak made what appears to be a fateful decision: she let her estranged husband, who for months had tormented and threatened her, to move back into her house.
Wednesday, Buffalo Grove police forced their way into the Kisliaks’ million-dollar home in the 2800 block of Acacia Terrace to find what Chief Brian Budds called a "horrific" crime scene: Vera Kisliak; her husband, Andrei Kisliak; their daughters, ages 6 and 4; and her husband’s 67-year-old mother all dead of "sharp force trauma" injuries.
Police have released little information since a brief press conference Thursday, but Lake County court records tell a story of increasingly erratic, menacing behavior by Andrei Kisliak dating back to at least July, when the couple began highly contentious divorce proceedings. Among other instances mentioned in court filings, his wife told the court her husband brought home prostitutes, used drugs heavily, followed her as she took their children to school, stole her car and threatened to kill her "and disfigure her in a way that no one will recognize her."
Then, at a Nov. 1 hearing, the couple asked a judge to modify a protective order that had barred Andrei Kisliak from the house and from seeing their children without supervision, and let him move back in.
Vera, Vivian and Amilia Kisliak (Photo courtesy of Natasha Kuzmenko)
Judge Marnie Slavin, who in September had ordered Andrei Kisliak jailed for contempt for repeatedly disrupting a hearing with profane outbursts, apparently had concerns as well. A handwritten note scrawled on the order reads "The court strongly advised against this arrangement but the parties wish to proceed by agreement."
In court filings, Vera Kisliak said that prior to seeking divorce, her husband had begun abusing drugs — smoking marijuana daily and using cocaine — brought prostitutes to the home and blasted music late at night. In August, he refused to give his wife keys to any of the couple’s four BMW vehicles to drop their daughters at school and refused to take them himself. When Vera Kisliak was able to get a neighbor to drive them, she claimed her husband followed, "recording them, berating them, and yelling at them to take the Uber," according to court records.
Ordered by the court in September to give his wife keys to a BMW sedan, Andrei Kisliak left her a broken key, records show. Once started, the car ran for a few seconds and stopped. Two weeks later, Vera Kisliak filed a motion to give her sole access to the house and the children.
"(Andrei) is an unstable man who is capable of anything," her lawyer wrote, later noting that Andrei told Vera "that if she does not stop filing pleadings in Court, he will kill and disfigure her to a way that no one will recognize her." Andrei said after killing his wife, he would kill her family in Belarus, and her sister in Poland. The order was granted Aug. 30. A month later, he was jailed for going to the house.
Olga Lysenko, 60, a realtor who had worked with Andrei Kisliak, said she first heard the couple were divorcing when Andrei called her to bail him out of jail in September. Lyskenko and her husband, who dined with the Kisliaks a few times a year, would drive his daughters to visits after Andrei was barred from the house.
Andrei Kisliak was born in Belarus, met Vera through friends and traveled to visit her a half dozen times before they married in Minsk, Lysenko said.
"She was a beautiful girl… with long legs like a model," Lysenko said. Andrei Kisliak, who worked as a tennis coach, was athletic and handsome, Lysenko said, opining that the mugshot she’s seen on the news does not do justice to his good looks.
"They were a beautiful couple, and seemed so happy," she said. "He was so in love."
This fall, Andrei Kisliak gave the Lysenkos a sunny picture of the divorce proceedings and claimed the couple were going to attend counseling and reconcile, Lysenko said. Andrei was especially upbeat after his mother, Lilia Kisliak, moved in to help care for the children in late September.
Court records indicate that Andrei Kisliak, acting as his own attorney, on Oct. 5 submitted a motion to withdraw the divorce filing. The day before, the order of protection barring him from the house and contacting his wife had been extended to Oct. 25, and subsequently was extended again.
But Nov. 1, the judge allowed Andrei Kisliak to withdraw his petition to dissolve the marriage, though the divorce to continued under Vera’s counter-petition. The same order allowed him to move back into the house. He was required to submit proof he was applying for three jobs per month, reimburse his wife for her expenses and give her title to one of their cars. The couple were to stay in separate bedrooms.
The couple was also facing financial struggles. Andrei Kisliak, who Lysenko said typically held down two or three jobs at once, had stopped working and had been ordered to sell off dozens of high-end refrigerators he had refurbished to pay bills, according to court filings. Court records indicate that the day before the bodies were discovered, a hearing was held to address selling off the Acacia Terrace house, which had gone into foreclosure. It is not clear from court records, but Andrei Kisliak, who was acting as his own attorney after his first two lawyers withdrew from the case, would appear to have attended.
Lysenko had no idea that the Kisliak’s house, which the couple purchased a few years after returning from their wedding in Minsk, was in foreclosure. Andrei Kisliak had invested a fortune remodeling the house, Lysenko said, and had worked multiple jobs to pay for it.
"It was a dream house for both of them," Lysenko said. "Who would buy it now?"