Chicago Fire Hazmat Team Responds to High-Rise Hoarder Apartment

Chicago Fire Department

Robert A. Cronkleton

The Kansas City Star


Mar. 25—Police investigating the death of 30-year-old former Shawnee man after they discovered potentially explosive materials inside his downtown Chicago high-rise apartment Wednesday, Chicago police said in a news release.

The Cook County Medical Examiner has identified him as Theodore Hilk. An autopsy was performed Wednesday, but the cause and manner of his death has not been determined, a spokeswoman said.

Hilk’s family could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Police discovered his body about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday after being called to his apartment a parent. His father told police Hilk had not been heard from for several days, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown told Chicago’s ABC7 television station.

Hilk’s father had driven to Chicago and met police at the apartment. Officers heard water running, but no one would answer the door. When police entered the unit, they found the man’s body. It appeared he had been dead for some time, Brown said.

While police were conducting their death investigation, a strong odor was emanating from the apartment and some officers started to become ill, Brown told ABC7.

The Chicago Fire Department’s HAZMAT team responded, Brown said, who described the apartment as very difficult to move around in because of a hording situation and overturn furniture and boxes everywhere.

The police department’s bomb unit was brought in and determined that there were bomb making substances and materials inside the apartment, Brown told ABC7.

At about 4 p.m., police discovered hazardous materials and evacuated two floors of the building at the 200 block of East Illinois Street, police said in the release. Police brought in special containers so that the hazardous materials could be removed and disposed of safely.

The fire department has identified one of the chemicals found inside the apartment as lead azide, a potentially volatile substance, police said. The FBI and the Chicago Police Departments SWAT team also assisted at the scene.

The investigation into the Hilk’s death and the discovery of explosive materials is ongoing, police said.


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