Surviving family members of an apparent murder-suicide believed their relative began to unravel after spending some time abroad, an officer said Thursday.
Authorities say John Conta Jr. shot his parents and his 5-year-old nephew early Wednesday morning before setting the Oak Lawn home on fire and turning the gun on himself.
The body of John Conta Sr. was found inside the hallway of the home. His wife, Janice Conta, was found in the first-floor bedroom. The grandson, Matthew Meier, was found dead in the basement. The younger Conta took his life in the garage, police said.
"We did learn that he had spent some time in Russia as a potato farmer, and he came back after a year in Russia and the family felt that he had changed somewhat," said Oak Lawn Police Division Chief Michael Kaufmann. "His mental state was just different."
Crews on Thursday demolished the home because of safety concerns after the fire that left several walls and the roof unstable. The rubble became just a reminder of the lives that were destroyed.
"Every time you pass that lot, you're going to remember, 'This is where this tragedy has happened,'" said neighbor Tom Repetny.
Investigators said they discovered a safe in the home which contained several guns they say Conta Sr. used for hunting. It was one of those guns that investigators said the son used to kill his family.