DeKALB – Morgan Chaney didn’t just shine on stage as a high-schooler, she helped bring plays to life from behind the scenes.
“She was always willing to dig in and help out however she could,” former Indian Creek High School drama teacher Jan Kuntz remembers. “She was always willing to do any job. She would paint and work on the set, in addition to being on the stage.”
Now Kuntz is holding tighter than ever to her fondest memories of her former student, whom she says was a gifted performer on stage and in band and choir. Chaney played varsity volleyball before she graduated from the school about eight years ago.
Chaney, 26, was fatally shot at her home in the 1300 block of Omega Circle Drive early Saturday morning by her former boyfriend, 31-year-old Andre Gomez, DeKalb police said. Authorities released more details Monday about the murder-suicide, as neighbors struggled to understand the violence that marred their quiet neighborhood.
“I’m trying to remember all the fun that we had and all the work that we did and keep those memories in my heart,” Kuntz said.
Gomez called police early Saturday morning to tell them a crime had been committed at Chaney’s home before fatally shooting himself in rural Shabbona, police said. DeKalb police had not received any calls before Saturday involving Gomez or Chaney, nor any calls involving her cellphone or her address in the 1300 block of Omega Circle Drive, DeKalb police Cmdr. John Petragallo said.
Gomez was distraught after their long-term dating relationship ended about a month ago, Petragallo said.
Police found no sign of trouble about 2:30 a.m. when they responded to Gomez’s 911 call, but Chaney’s family found her dead in her bathroom about 6 a.m. Saturday. Petragallo said Chaney died instantly.
Chaney’s family told police her car was missing. Police records show the early morning 911 call had been made from Chaney’s cellphone in rural Shabbona, Petragallo said.
DeKalb County sheriff’s deputies found Gomez dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound in the 5800 block of Miller Road near a wind turbine about 7:50 a.m. Saturday. He was in Chaney’s vehicle with her cell phone, and the caliber of the gun found in the car matched the caliber of the casings found at Chaney’s house, Petragallo said.
Police found Gomez’s bicycle near Chaney’s home, and witnesses saw Gomez driving her vehicle about 1 a.m. Saturday near his home in the 1500 block of Reserve Lane in DeKalb, police said. A police search of Gomez’s home Saturday uncovered evidence connecting him to the crime, Petragallo said.
Chaney’s neighbors on the residential street near Twombly Road on DeKalb’s northwest side were searching for answers and trying to process what had happened.
“It’s totally a surprise and a shock, because we have not had any issues in all the years that we’ve been here,” said Mark Scott, who lived next door to Chaney. “We’re out in the middle of nowhere, and there’s no problems.”
Like Scott, Lorraine Maciorowski was surprised to see police lighting up her street Saturday morning. She said that Chaney’s home had been quiet lately and that the young woman kept to herself.
“It’s too close to home,” Maciorowski said. “You think you’re all the way out here on the edge of DeKalb.”
Gomez had a valid firearm owner’s identification card, but police did not know Monday if he had the firearm legally.
“Until we do a trace, we won’t have that information,” Petragallo said.
Autopsies were performed Monday morning on both Gomez and Chaney, although the final results would not be available for about a week, Petragallo said. Police also plan to run tests on the firearms evidence.
The pair had worked for the same company at one time, but Gomez no longer worked there, Petragallo said. On Monday, police knew of no workplace incidents involving the two.
“The investigation will continue for several weeks, until we get ballistics back,” Petragallo said.