‘It’s terribly sad’: Two dead in Wheeling murder-suicide

  The bodies of Marisa Dister, 46, and Russell O’Connor, 44, were discovered in their house on the 300 block of 12th Street in Wheeling on Thursday. Police suspect a murder-suicide. Russell Lissau/

A Wheeling couple with a history of domestic problems are dead in what authorities on Friday called a murder-suicide.

The bodies of Marisa Dister, 46, and Russell O’Connor, 44, were discovered Thursday evening in their home on the 300 block of 12th Street. A gun was found near the bodies, police said.

O’Connor shot Dister and then himself, Wheeling Deputy Police Chief Al Steffen said Friday, confirming the results of autopsies conducted by the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Dister was a bartender at the Old Munich Tavern & Grill in Wheeling, and a friend who is a regular patron there went to Dister’s home about 5:30 p.m. Thursday because she hadn’t shown up for a 4 p.m. shift. That friend, Palatine resident Bill Napp, said Dister last was seen at the bar Monday.

At the house, Napp found the front door unlocked, searched inside and discovered Dister’s and O’Connor’s bodies in a hallway. He saw O’Connor’s fatal wound and screamed Dister’s name.

No one responded, and he called 911.

“I knew they were dead,” Napp said. “It’s terribly sad.”

Authorities aren’t yet sure when O’Connor killed Dister and himself. The investigation is continuing.

Napp said Dister was a lovely person who had “a heart of gold.”

He also called Dister’s and O’Connor’s relationship “tumultuous.”

Police had been to the couple’s home because of domestic issues, Steffen said, most recently this past Christmas. Steffen declined to elaborate on the cases but said departmental social workers were familiar with the couple.

Iwona Kapuscinska lived next to Dister and O’Connor and described them as “great neighbors.”

Kapuscinska also said Dister and O’Connor had broken up and reconciled several times.

“They couldn’t live without each other,” she said.

Kapuscinska said she didn’t hear gunshots or any other type of disturbance at the couple’s house before police arrived.

“I’m shocked,” Kapuscinska said. “I didn’t expect anything like this.”

Dister had two grown daughters who were born before she began dating O’Connor, Napp said.

Neither daughter lived with the couple, police said.

O’Connor had posted a photo of himself with Dister on his Facebook page in March. He wished her a happy 14th anniversary and called her “my true love” in the caption.

Friends have grieved for Dister on her Facebook page. They shared memories of dressing like Madonna as kids, sharing cat videos and other fun activities.

“I am gonna miss your beautiful face and your awesome laugh,” one person wrote. “I am truly devastated.”

Dister’s murder is the first in Wheeling since 2022, Steffen said. That case also was a murder-suicide involving gun violence.

Daily Herald senior staff writer Jake Griffin contributed to this report.

  Two people were found dead in a house on the 300 block of 12th Street in Wheeling in what police believe was a murder-suicide. Russell Lissau/
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