Lyons brothers released from police custody after bodies found buried in backyard

Two brothers who led Lyons police to discover two bodies in their backyard have been released from police custody.

Michael and John Lelko, ages 45 and 41, told police last week they buried their mother and sister in the backyard after they both died.

The brothers are now facing potential felony charges. They were in custody for 48 hours and are cooperating with police.

The remains found buried are still being identified.

Lyons police say the brothers told them that in 2015, their sister pushed their mother, who was in her late 70s, down the stairs of their home, causing "some type of head contusion." Police say that incident resulted in her death.

The brothers also told police that in 2019, the sister fell ill and died. There is no record of either death with the state.

Although the brothers were released from custody, police say they are still the subject of a death investigation.

"We continue to look into this case with the help of the Cook County Medical Examiner who is doing a forensic evaluation of the remains that were removed from the backyard on Saturday," Lyons Police Chief Tom Herion said.

The discovery of the buried bodies comes after a neighbor called police last Thursday to conduct a well-being check at 3950 Center Avenue, after seeing a male resident crawl out of a window.

When police arrived at the house, they found the brothers living in the house in squalor, with no water, electricity or gas service.

While talking to the brothers, Chief Herion learned they had buried their mother and sister in the backyard after their deaths in 2015 and 2019.

"He admitted to burying them in the backyard," said Herion. "Concealment of a death is a felony in Illinois. If it turns out it’s a homicide, homicide is a more serious offense."

Michael and John Lelko told FOX 32 that they buried their relatives because they could not afford a funeral.

The police chief said on Saturday that neighbors had been told that the mom was in a mental institution, so no one was worried about her location.

Police said John Lelko lived upstairs and they found him in ill health. Police entered the home in hazmat suits, removed two dogs from the house and sent the men to a hospital to be checked mentally and physically. 

Martha Aranda Castaneda lives directly across the street and saw the police interacting with her neighbor.

"That's the first time I saw him [in over a year], when they took him out," she said.


Herion said the two men suffer from health conditions, both physical and mental.

"He had a homeless appearance," said Castaneda.

Lyons Police have been to the home several times in the past for disturbance calls, but said none of the calls were "earth-shattering."