Two people died in a fiery car crash as they were being sought in connection with the murders of an Illinois family of four.
Nathaniel Huey Jr, 31, was considered a suspect and Ermalinda Palomo a person of interest in the shooting deaths of Alberto Rolon, 38, Zoraida Bartolomei, 32, their two boys, aged 7 and 10, and their dogs over the weekend in Romeoville.
Three days after the brutal killings, Huey and Palomo were confirmed dead of gunshot wounds in a burning car in Oklahoma after crashing as they tried to escape police.
Many questions remain around the horrifying story, including how the couple were linked to the family they allegedly killed.
Romeoville police discovered the murders on Sunday after concerned family members asked for a welfare check when they were unable to reach the parents. The shooting was believed to have taken place between 9am Saturday and 5am Sunday.
Here’s what we know about Huey and Palomo so far:
The couple wanted
Romeoville Deputy Chief Chris Burne told local news outlets that a car linked to the Huey was spotted in Catoosa, Oklahoma on Wednesday.
Huey was in the car with Palomo, whom he was reportedly dating and living. Palomo had been reported missing the night before and was labeled a person of interest in the family killings.
When Oklahoma officers tried to stop the vehicle, things took a turn for the worse.
“The vehicle immediately attempted to elude the officers, resulting in a single-car crash,” police said. The crash caused the vehicle to catch on fire.
Authorities on the scene believed to have heard “two gunshots” and a “female with a gunshot wound was located,” Chief Burne added.
Huey was also reported to have a gunshot wound and died in the driver’s seat, while Palomo was taken to hospital in critical condition and later died, an attorney representing her family said, according to ABC 7.
Police have not yet identified Palomo publicly, but she was named by an attorney for her family.
Attorney John Paul Ivec told ABC 7 that Palomo’s family reported her missing after her phone was switched off following a series of concerning messages which reportedly said: “Take care of my grand babies”.
The lawyer stated he was not aware of Palomo’s involvement in the slayings over the weekend and said although police have identified her as a person of interest, “she's a victim just like the Romeoville family's a victim.”
‘A very dangerous man’
According to an NBC report, Huey used to own a security company, had access to multiple weapons, and last worked at a machinery warehouse. A public database also showed he has a business connection with a security company.
Palomo’s daughter Cristiana Espinoza, 25, of Streamwood, Illinois, spoke to NBC News about her mother and Huey’s eight-year-long relationship.
Ms Espinoza said they also lived together for that long.
The unnamed woman’s daughter said Huey was a “very dangerous man” as well as a “huge manipulator”.
She added: “When I first met him, he wasn’t too bad of a guy. A couple of months ago, something switched. He was shutting all of us out, including my mom, and now this.”
“He started becoming suspicious … keeping to himself, staying in the garage. He started not being himself, pushing us all away, even my mom,” Ms Espinoza said as reported by NBC News.
With the latest developments, police did not say what the relationship was between Huey and the family who was killed over the weekend but said evidence “has shown us a nexus between our suspect and the victims, as well as a possible motive.”
Official statement from the Bartolomei family
In a statement posted on Facebook following news of the Oklahoma deaths, Zoraida Bartolomei’s sister Bryana said the family’s “primary focus is on channelling support, assistance, and love for our family and loved ones.”
“We want to express our heartfelt gratitude for the outpouring of solidarity and support following the tragic loss of Zoraida Bartolomei, her husband Alberto Rolon, and their sons Adriel and Diego.”
The statement continued: “The investigation is currently underway and being led by the authorities of Romeoville, Illinois. Given the sensitive nature of the ongoing process, the safety of all parties involved, and the profound challenges our family is facing, we are unable to provide any comments at this time.
“We appreciate the understanding and we take this opportunity to once again express our profound gratitude for the solidarity and support extended by people during this period.”