INVERNESS, Ill. - A woman who was found dead along with her husband Sunday after a fire at a home in Inverness died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to an autopsy.
The couple was identified as Marlene Pieracci, 82, and her husband Mario, 84, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
Marlene died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to her head, the medical examiner’s office said. Her death was ruled a suicide.
An autopsy to determine the cause and manner of Mario’s death was pending, the medical examiner’s office said.
A neighbor called 911 to report the fire shortly before 5 p.m. after noticing smoke coming from the rear of a split-level home, according to Palatine Rural Fire Protection District Chief Rich May.
Firefighters arrived in minutes and found heavy smoke and fire at 219 Bradwell Road, May said.
Crews entered the home and found the couple, one of whom was in the kitchen, May said. The couple, in their 80s, were pronounced dead at the scene. The medical examiner’s office hasn’t released their names.
Firefighters struggled to enter the home due to numerous "furnishings" in the home and heavy snow outside, May said.
The fire, which began in the near of the house near a bedroom, was likely accelerated because of an open window nearby, May said.
Neighbors told investigators they saw a resident of the home outside an hour before the fire, shoveling the driveway, he said.
No one else was injured or displaced by the fire, which took about 20 minutes to extinguish, May said.
Part of the roof collapsed on the one-story section of the home, he said. The house was likely a total loss.
Twelve other fire departments assisted in the response, totaling about 20 vehicles and about 50 personnel, May said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the fire department, Inverness police and the state fire marshal, May said.
Media reports said the victims were a couple who lived in the home for decades.
May said it was the first fatal fire in Inverness, to his knowledge, in decades.