Highland Park house fire murders: Victims identified, how they died revealed

What started as a house fire call in north suburban Highland Park has now turned into a double murder investigation and the suspect remains on the run.

The fire happened around 3:50 a.m. Wednesday at a home in the 1700 block of Park Avenue West. 

An officer from Tower Ladder 33 did an initial sweep outside the home when the two victims were found.

As crews began putting out the flames, firefighters went into the home through a window to search for any other victims. No one else was found inside.

Initially, police said the two victims appeared to have died from "suspicious injuries." Hours later, on Wednesday evening, the Lake County Coroner's Office identified the two victims, who are brothers, as 63-year-old Marc Austwick and 60-year-old John Austwick.

Based on autopsy results, the coroner said both of the brothers died from multiple gunshot wounds and their deaths were ruled homicides. 

"It’s pretty creepy, I’ve lived here a long time. I’ve never seen anything like this," said one neighbor.

FOX 32 has confirmed the property owner, their mother, died just last week - she was 84 years old. 

The house that burned Wednesday morning had been up for sale on and off for a while but was currently back on the market.

"I do know there was an older woman who lived there. She used to be sitting on the front lawn a lot when the weather was nice and I know nothing about her," said a neighbor named Elaine. "Then, just the last few weeks, the house went up for sale, so I don’t know if she moved out, passed away, moved to somewhere else. I really don’t know."

Park Avenue West was closed for most of the day to all traffic between Spruce and Sunnyside avenues, but it has reopened.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated.