A 54-year-old Illinois man shot and killed his 59-year-old partner before also killing himself because he thought they’d contracted the coronavirus, authorities said.
The couple was found dead on Thursday, and autopsies later revealed that neither Patrick Jesernik nor Cheryl Schriefer had COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, authorities said.
The Will County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a statement that deputies were called to the couple’s home around 8 p.m. Thursday to check on them after Jesernik’s family members expressed concerns about not hearing from him. They were found dead with gunshot wounds, and a revolver was found near Jesernik's body, authorities said.
“Family arrived on scene and stated that Patrick had been scared that he and Cheryl had contracted the COVID-19 virus, and that Cheryl was tested two days ago,” the sheriff's office said in the statement. “It was reported that Cheryl was having a hard time breathing. The family stated that to their knowledge, she had not received the test result.”
According to the sheriff's office, the couple had never previously reported any domestic dispute and had limited contact with the police.
An autopsy report on Friday confirmed that Schriefer’s death was a homicide and Jesernik’s was a suicide. They both tested negative for COVID-19.
Authorities warned of the danger of domestic violence and noted that many courthouses are continuing to process protective orders for victims even as other court functions have shut down.
“During the current COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of service calls that Deputies have been responding to, involve domestic disputes and crisis intervention calls,” the sheriff's office said.