A man stayed in a Joliet motel room with his dead girlfriend’s corpse for nearly two days and used her debit card to buy vodka before calling authorities, police said this weekend.
Derek Tanke, 47, of Joliet, has been arrested on felony charges of concealment of a death, unlawful use of a credit card and ID theft, said Joliet Chief Michael Trafton. Tanke and his girlfriend, Nancy A. Johnston, 54, both were staying at the Bel-Air Motel, 1103 Plainfield Road, Trafton said.
Authorities found Johnston dead Friday morning in a motel room that had a significant odor of decomposition, Trafton said.
A pathologist working for the Will County coroner’s office has informed police that Johnston’s death was not a homicide, Trafton said.
Johnston had numerous medical problems and likely died Wednesday, Trafton said.
Tanke did not call authorities until Friday morning, Trafton said. Before he called, Tanke took Johnston’s debit card, withdrew money from an automated teller machine and bought vodka, Trafton said. Tanke also used the debit card to rent two additional days at the motel, where he stayed in the room with Johnston’s body, Trafton said.
On Friday morning, Tanke’s stay at the motel was ending, and he called 911 at 10:58 a.m., Trafton said. Tanke told responders that Johnston needed an ambulance, the chief said.
The Joliet police and fire departments responded, but when they arrived, they discovered that Johnston already was dead, the chief said. The coroner’s office was called to the scene.
It was obvious Johnston had been dead for some time, and police noticed some signs of trauma to her face, Trafton said.
In the past, the Joliet Police Department has arrested Tanke six times on domestic battery charges in cases where Johnston was the victim, Trafton said.
On Friday, Tanke was taken to the Joliet Police Department. During questioning, Tanke told police that he had gotten into a physical altercation with Johnston earlier in the week, and had punched her in the face several times, but that Johnston was still alive after the altercation, Trafton said.
Also during questioning, Tanke originally told police that he found Johnston dead when he woke up Friday morning, Trafton said.
Police told Tanke that was not possible because Johnston had been dead for longer than that, Trafton said.
Tanke then told police that Johnston had been dead since Wednesday, Trafton said.
On Friday and Saturday, Joliet police waited for the results of an autopsy. A pathologist told police that Johnston’s death was not a homicide, Trafton said.
On Saturday, Tanke appeared in Will County court on the charges of concealment of a death, unlawful use of a credit card and ID theft, Trafton said. Tanke’s bail was set at $75,000.