Illinois man kills wife and self over coronavirus fears — but both test negative
A man and his partner were found dead of gunshot wounds in an Illinois home in what police termed a murder-suicide over fears of coronavirus. Both tested negative.
A man killed his wife and himself in a murder-suicide because he was afraid they had coronavirus — but both later tested negative for the virus.
On Thursday police in the Chicago suburb of Joliet were called to a home for a welfare check. They arrived to find two bodies, “with obvious signs of trauma to their heads,” the Will County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
“All of the doors and windows of the residence were locked from the inside,” police said.
Forcing their way in, police and fire officials found Patrick Jesernik, 54, and Cheryl Schriefer, 59, “in separate rooms of the residence, both deceased,” the cops said. “Both individuals had a pooling of blood formed around their heads. A loaded revolver, containing two spent shell casings and three live rounds were located near Patrick’s body. There were no signs of a struggle, and the home was neat and orderly.”
The person who put the call in said Jesernik’s parents had contacted him and asked him to check on their son. A records check revealed no previous calls regarding domestic disputes, police said, and individually each had had “very limited police contact.”
The family told police that Jesernik had feared that he and Schriefer were afflicted with COVID-19, the sometimes-severe illness caused by coronavirus. Schriefer had been tested two days earlier because of trouble breathing, but had not received the results.
An autopsy revealed no coronavirus infection, police said.
“Both subjects died as a result of a single gunshot wound to the head,” police said. “Cheryl Schriefer was shot in the back of the head at close range, and her death is ruled as a homicide. Patrick died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and his death is ruled as a suicide. Both Cheryl and Patrick tested negative for the COVID-19 virus.”
Police noted an increase in domestic violence calls during the pandemic. That and crisis intervention have been the bulk of 911 calls since the crisis escalated, police said.
The tragedy adds to a growing list of extreme acts carried out in the name of coronavirus protection.
Simply put, “emotion impairs our perception of risk,” as Quartz put it last month in analyzing the psychology of coronavirus fear.
In most cases, the illness is mild or moderate — ranging from the sick feeling barely anything more than a cold, to symptoms that cause extreme discomfort for days or weeks. In some cases, patients end up requiring hospitalization. In its most extreme form, COVID-19 can be fatal.
But those statistics have not stopped people from adopting extreme measures to try and avoid contracting the illness.
In Iran, hundreds of people have died drinking toxic ethanol in the mistaken belief it can protect them from the virus. In Arizona, a man died after drinking fish tank cleaner containing chloroquine, which President Trump had touted as a miracle cure. His wife was hospitalized in critical condition.
And in New York City last week, a man who had been diagnosed with coronavirus attempted suicide by cop, brandishing a machete and a gun so they would shoot him. They did, and he is recuperating in a hospital.