'Inconceivable': Mother killed teen sons, then herself in Elmhurst-area home, sheriff says
A mother shot her two teenage sons to death Friday before setting fire to her Elmhurst-area home and fatally shooting herself, DuPage County authorities said Sunday.
The DuPage County sheriff's office identified the mother as Jamie M. Jones, 43, and her sons as Jason M. Harris, 16, and Nathan A. Harris, 19. They were found dead after authorities responded to a house fire about 9:30 p.m. Friday on the 3N300 block of Willow Road, sheriff's police said.
"This is truly a tragedy," DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick said in a statement Sunday. "An act like this is completely inconceivable. This will be a trying time for the family, the community and our first responders who dealt with the aftermath of this horrible incident. We offer sincere condolences for anyone affected and urge anyone who is going through stressful times in their lives to please seek help."
Neighbors and friends expressed shock Sunday.
Cadence Chalmers, one of Jason Harris' friends and classmates at York Community High School, called him "a great person" who enjoyed playing video games and was fun to be around.
"He didn't have a mean bone in his body," she said. "He was a great friend."
Jason Harris was an incoming junior at York and Nathan Harris was a recent graduate of the Elmhurst school, Community Unit School District 205 spokeswoman Beverly Redmond said. Counselors will be available to students from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday at the school.
"Our immediate thoughts and prayers extend to their family and friends as well as our teachers and staff at this unspeakable hour," Superintendent David Moyer wrote in a message posted on the district's website Sunday. "In the days and weeks to come, we most certainly will lean on each other for comfort and understanding as we attempt to come to terms with this great loss."
Neighbor Mary Zaba said she would often stop and chat with Jones while walking her dog. She described Jones as nice and said she demonstrated her artistic ability with lavish Halloween displays.
"It's just so tragic. It hits close to home, that's for sure," Zaba said.
Other neighbors said they heard what they thought were fireworks Friday night and initially believed that's what caught the home on fire.
Marilyn Anderson said many of those who live in the neighborhood just west of Mount Emblem Cemetery are longtime residents. Jones, she said, rented her home from a friend who had been a longtime resident.
"It's a tragedy, but I believe that's the sort of thing that can happen in any neighborhood at any time in any town, in any city, in any country," Anderson said. "It's a shame that she didn't feel that she had help for whatever she was going through, that that was an out for her."
While investigators continued to walk through the neighborhood and interview residents Sunday, DuPage authorities also suggested several resources for those experiencing difficulties in their lives and in need of assistance. They included NAMI of DuPage County, http://namidupage.org/; the DuPage County Health Department, www.dupagehealth.org/mental-health; Central DuPage Pastoral Counseling Center, https://cdpcc.org/; and the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or (800) 273-8255.
"The events that took place on July 12 are a tragic loss for the family, as well as the entire community." DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said.
• Daily Herald staff writer Charles Keeshan contributed to this report.