JOLIET, Ill. — Authorities in Joliet and Will County released a timeline and new details on Tuesday on what they called the most heinous crime the city has ever seen after eight people were found dead and one person was shot Sunday evening.
According to Joliet Police Department Chief Bill Evans, it has been determined that the multi-victim homicide that left seven dead, occurred on Sunday afternoon, and by the time authorities arrived Monday, it was no longer a fluid and active scene.
After finding the victims, authorities said they were confident that the suspect, who was later identified as 23-year-old Romeo Nance, had fled the area and was no longer in Will County or the City of Joliet.
Detectives then worked quickly to identify the suspect shooting and notified the public.
“Arguably the most heinous crime our city and our police department has handled,” Dwayne English, public affairs sergeant at Joliet Police Department, said.
Who are the victims of the Joliet and Will County killings?
Authorities have offered some clues about the victims in Sunday’s deadly homicides.
According to police, inside the home at 2212 West Acres Road, five victims were found dead from gunshot wounds.
The victims were later identified by the Will County Coroner’s Office as 38-year-old Christine Esters, 31-year-old Joshua Nance, 20-year-old Alexandria Nance. A 14 and 16-year-old girl who were also found dead in the home were not identified due to their age.
At the address of 2225 West Acres Road, authorities found two more victims. They were later identified by the Will County Coroner’s Office as 47-year-old Tamaeka Nance and 35-year-old William Esters II.
According to Evans, there was a “family relationship” between the two homes, and Nance was related to the residents of both homes, but authorities did not provide specific details about their relationship.
“This incident has had a tremendous impact on the City of Joliet,” Evans said.
28-year-old Toyosi Bakare was also killed after he was shot at an apartment complex off Route 53 in Joliet Township.
When did the killings in Joliet and Will County occur?
During the press conference, authorities detailed a timeline of the crime spree on Sunday afternoon they said likely began with the deaths of seven at the homes in Joliet.
Will County deputies say they were first called to the Pheasant Run Apartments just before 4:30 p.m. Sunday after reports a man had been critically injured in a shooting.
The sheriff’s office said Bakare suffered a single gunshot wound to the head and was taken to the hospital where he died.
Bakare was originally from Nigeria and had been living in the U.S. for about three years.
“Our hearts break for the Bakare family and those who have been affected by this senseless act of violence,” Will County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Dan Jungles said.
Authorities say robbery was not a motive in the shooting and surveillance video taken at the apartment complex captured a red Toyota entering and leaving the parking lot.
While authorities were securing the scene, they were notified of another shooting that occurred in the City of Joliet in the 200 block of Davis Street where a 42-year-old man had been shot in the leg and sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
Authorities say the victim in the second shooting relayed to police details about the suspect’s vehicle, a red Toyota Camry.
According to Evans, the shootings involving Bakare and the injured victim do not appear to be connected to the deaths at the homes in Joliet and said they appeared to be random in nature.
Authorities say it is now believed that the shootings on West Acres Road occurred during the midday hours on Sunday, before the seemingly random shootings.
By 8 p.m. Sunday, authorities were able to determine that the red Camry was known to be used by Nance, who had an “extensive criminal history.” Authorities then began searching for Nance by conducting patrols in areas he was associated with.
After they were unable to locate the vehicle, detectives set up surveillance in the 2200 block of West Acres, where Nance was known to stay in two homes, in hopes he would return to the area. Authorities said the registered owner of the red Toyota had an address listed at 2212 West Acres.
When deputies attempted to contact the residents in the home at 2212 West Acres on Monday afternoon and no one answered, they then attempted to reach out to the residents in the home across the street at 2225, but no one answered.
While at the 2225 West Acres, deputies noticed blood and bullet holes on the front door. They entered the home and found two victims.
Joliet police were then called to the scene and a group of authorities entered 2212 West Acres, where five more victims were found.
“All available law enforcement resources, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Marshall Service, were being utilized to locate Romeo Nance and the suspect vehicle,” Jungles said.
Just before 6 p.m. Monday, Will County deputies, who were working with U.S. Marshalls, were notified Nance was believed to be traveling in Texas and by around 8 p.m., Nance’s vehicle was located by a helicopter traveling along Interstate 35.
When authorities tried to stop the vehicle, Nance pulled into a gas station in Natalia, Texas, where authorities say he then fled from the car while armed with a gun.
Authorities chased Nance, but said he rounded a corner of the building and died by suicide.
“We know there may be many questions that you may have regarding this case, and motives, and circumstances involving this incident,” Jungles said, “many cases like this, we may never know the truth or the motives behind these senseless killings.”
Watch Tuesday’s full press conference in the video player above.
The investigation is still active and authorities say they were limited in the amount of information they could provide on Tuesday.
Victim services advocates were in the neighborhood on Tuesday offering free counseling to anyone in need.
Visit the Illinois Youth & Family Services website or call 815-290-0831 for more information on how to get assistance.