JOLIET – A 41-year-old mother suffered a single gunshot wound to the head and her two young daughters suffered multiple gunshot wounds to their heads in a case police said they are treating as a murder-suicide, according to the Will County Coroner’s Office.
The coroner’s office delivered the preliminary results of autopsies performed Tuesday on the bodies of Celisa Henning and her twin daughters, 5-year-olds Makayla and Addison Henning.
All three were pronounced dead shortly after 6:30 p.m. Monday in their home on North Reed Street just north of Glenwood Avenue.
The final cause and manner of the three deaths will be determined upon the conclusion of the police investigation, and autopsy and toxicology reports, the coroner’s office said. Funeral home selection is pending.
A statement from the Diocese of Joliet confirmed that Makayla and Addison were students at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School.
“Our heart aches for those affected by this tragedy, and our prayers go out to them,” the statement said.
Joliet Police Deputy Chief Al Roechner declined to comment on the circumstances leading to the deaths of the Hennings, saying the police are still investigating. Roechner said he didn’t know if Celisa Henning had medical issues before the incident. Calls to Joliet Police Chief Brian Benton were not returned.
Two Joliet police officers in plainclothes visited the home late Tuesday morning. They declined to comment when asked why they were inside the home.
Norma Henning, grandmother of the twins, said Celisa Henning had been suffering from health problems since she got into a car accident but she didn’t remember when the accident occurred.
Celisa Henning had seen 20 to 30 doctors but none of them could figure out what was wrong with her, she said. She declined to specify what was troubling her daughter-in-law.
“She was just at her wit’s end,” Norma Henning said.
On Aug. 11, Celisa Henning filed a lawsuit against Carol D. Salinas, 61, of Joliet, over a Oct. 19, 2015, car accident. Police cited Salinas for failure to reduce speed.
Salinas pleaded guilty the following month and was fined $120.
The lawsuit accused Salinas of causing Celisa Henning’s internal and external injuries of “permanent, lasting, disability and disfiguring nature to her body, mind, limbs and nervous system,” including a lumbar injury.
The case was set for a management hearing on Nov. 29.
Norma Henning said her son Steven is broken up over the tragedy.
“We never, never suspected something like this. None of us,” she said.
Neighbors and visitors mourned the deaths of Celisa Henning and her two daughters early Tuesday morning.
Greg Zanis from Aurora-based Zanis Crosses for Loss came to set up three white crosses with red hearts on the front yard of the home. Soon, they were adorned with teddy bears and flowers from visitors. One woman came to take a picture of the makeshift memorial and did a sign of the cross.
“It’s very hard,” Zanis said as he sat in his truck, visibly shaken.
Janet Palkon, who lives on the block, was with two other women wrapping ribbons around trees near and at the home where the tragic deaths occurred.
“The family really needs prayer,” Palkon said.
Palkon said she’s lived on the block for almost 20 years. The street is quiet and she said she wouldn’t “expect something like this to happen.”
“The girls are sweet little girls,” Palkon said of the daughters.
Normal and quiet
Scott and Michelle Holladay, who live on the same block, said Celisa Henning’s family was normal and quiet. Celisa Henning would walk around the neighborhood with her daughters, Michelle Holladay said.
“Everybody is in shock,” said Scott Holladay.
About 3 p.m. Monday, police were called to the home on Reed Street. More than a dozen different officers went in and out of the home over the next few hours.
Police say they were met at the home by a family member, who directed them inside where the bodies of an adult female and two small children were located.
At 7 p.m. Monday, Benton confirmed that the three were dead inside the home.