Authorities Identify Man Found Dead in Chicago Building After Investigation Prompts Hazmat Response

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Authorities have identified the man who was found dead inside a high-rise apartment building in downtown Chicago, sparking an investigation in which officers discovered explosive materials, prompting a hazmat response while authorities evacuated parts of the building and shut down the area.

Theodore Hilk, 30, was found dead Tuesday night in a unit on the 7th floor of the apartment building located at 240 E. Illinois St. in the city's Streeterville neighborhood, according to police and the Cook County Medical Examiner's office, which did not release a cause of death. An autopsy was scheduled for Thursday.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said Thursday morning that Hilk's father hadn't heard from him and called police out of concern, sparking the initial investigation when his body was found.

"His father was concerned about him so he called on Tuesday, because he hadn't heard from him. So we are continuing to try to figure out the social network of the deceased, and as soon as we can put any pieces together we'll update the public," Brown said.

"It's still very early in the investigation, we have to talk to neighbors and other friends and family to figure out what was going on with him," he continued. "We do know this father hadn't heard from him in a while, and was concerned, and that caused the preliminary investigation to start."

Chicago police said that while they were further investigating Hilk's death at around 4 p.m. on Wednesday, officers discovered hazardous materials inside his apartment, prompting a SWAT team and bomb unit response.

Brown said Thursday morning that the material found can be used to create explosives but it was unclear why it was in Hilk's apartment.

"The material that we discovered inside this apartment which, by the way was pretty disorganized, a little bit of a hoarding situation, but that material is lead azide," Brown said. "It's a very volatile material, it can be used to create some explosive types of devices. And so we have been very careful, it's taken a lot of time but we have disposed of the material from the apartment."

Authorities said two floors of the building were evacuated in the emergency response.

"I said, 'What's happening?' and he said, 'Don't worry about it, but there have been a small amount of explosives detected,'" recalled Dawne Davenport, a resident who was evacuated.

Police brought in "special containers" so the material could be transported and disposed of safely. Police said that when the materials were removed, they would be detonated elsewhere out of an abundance of caution.

The scene was cleared at around 11 p.m. and residents were allowed back into the building. An investigation into the incident remains ongoing.

"There's a lot to go through to figure out what exactly the deceased died from, so cause of death, we don't know that yet, as well what was this material being used for. So we have a lot still to do in this investigation," Brown said.

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