Prosecutors: Son extensively planned killing, dismembering his mother

  • Brian Peck, 55, was charged with the murder of his mother, Gail Peck, 76, of Elgin.

    Brian Peck, 55, was charged with the murder of his mother, Gail Peck, 76, of Elgin.

  • Gail Peck, 76, of Elgin was reported missing Friday.

    Gail Peck, 76, of Elgin was reported missing Friday.

  • Police investigated the disappearance of Gail Peck, 76, on Littleton Trail in Elgin. Her son was charged Tuesday with her murder.

      Police investigated the disappearance of Gail Peck, 76, on Littleton Trail in Elgin. Her son was charged Tuesday with her murder. Rick West | Staff Photographer

Updated 10/31/2017 7:21 PM

A dispute between an Elgin man and his mother over loud Jimi Hendrix music led to the woman's gruesome murder and dismemberment, authorities said Tuesday.

Brian M. Peck, 55, told police that during the confrontation, he knocked down his 76-year-old mother, Gail S. Peck, stomped on her head and used a handsaw to cut up her body in the house they shared, authorities said. Her remains were found Saturday in suitcases weighed down by paver bricks in a lagoon in Chicago's Lincoln Park, police said.


He's charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of concealing a homicide. He was ordered held without bail.

Citing details from prosecutors that indicated "extensive planning and premeditation," Cook County Judge Steven J. Goebel said Peck posed an "extreme real and present threat."

Prosecutors revealed gruesome details of the murder, which authorities believe occurred early Wednesday morning, hours after Gail Peck and Brian, her only child, had dinner at a Schaumburg restaurant. That was the last time she had contact with anyone other than her son, prosecutors said.

Friday afternoon, Peck called 911 to report his mother missing. Police said he told them his mother left home to walk her dog and the dog returned but she did not.

A day later, fishermen found a duffel bag containing body parts and a handsaw in a rowing lagoon on the 2200 block of North Stockton Drive, authorities said. After Chicago police were called, members of the department's marine unit found a suitcase containing a female torso, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Maria McCarthy said.

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The body showed evidence of a scar consistent with spinal fusion surgery, McCarthy said. Gail Peck had undergone such a procedure, McCarthy said.

A Cook County medical examiner noted the victim had fractured ribs "and hemorrhaging consistent with blunt force trauma inflicted while the woman was alive," McCarthy said. The victim also had upper chest injuries resulting from significant force, she said.

The cause of death remains undetermined and DNA testing is not complete, but police had enough evidence to charge Peck, Deputy Chief Bill Wolf said earlier.

The police investigation revealed Brian Peck used his mother's debit card to withdraw $500 from her checking account about 4:49 a.m. Wednesday in a transaction captured on video surveillance, McCarthy said. A few hours later, he called Gail Peck's cleaning lady and told her not to come to the house that day, McCarthy said.

About 7 a.m. Friday, in response to a call from Gail Peck's niece, Brian Peck stated his mother was "sick as a dog" and unable to come to the phone, McCarthy said. That afternoon, he transferred $4,000 from his mother's savings account to her checking account, McCarthy said.


Between Wednesday and Friday, prosecutors say, Brian Peck purchased cleaning supplies, paver bricks, three tarps and nylon cord, a five-piece luggage set and steam vacuum cleaner. Some purchases were captured on video surveillance. Police recovered a receipt for the luggage set, of which some remaining pieces were found in a closet in the Peck house, McCarthy said.

A search of the victim's house revealed a stain in Gail Peck's bedroom that tested positive for blood. After removing a piece of the carpet, police discovered a larger blood stain that had soaked through the wooden floor to the basement ceiling below. Other stains in the bathroom, on the washing machine and on the underside of the steam cleaner also tested positive for blood, McCarthy said.

Brian Peck initially told police the bedroom blood stain came from his mother about 5 a.m. Wednesday, after she dropped a plate and knife, bent to pick them up, fell and cut her knee, McCarthy said.

Confronted with video evidence of his purchases, Brian Peck "changed his story," McCarthy said.

Peck told police his mother confronted him about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday about playing Jimi Hendrix music too loud, McCarthy said. He claimed his mother told him to leave as she held "a military-style knife," McCarthy said.

He said he "knocked her legs out from under her and stomped on her head," McCarthy said. He said he cut up her body with the handsaw and put the parts in garbage bags, she said.

Wednesday, Peck drove to Montrose Harbor and threw the bag containing his mother's head and arms into Lake Michigan, McCarthy said. He told police he purchased the luggage the next day, put her torso and legs into those bags and threw them into the water near Diversey Harbor, McCarthy said. Diversey Harbor is just north of the lagoon.

Gail Peck had a real estate broker's license and lived in Oak Brook with her son before moving to Elgin, records show.

Cook County Assistant Public Defender Caroline Glennon said Brian Peck had been taking care of his mother for seven years, but McCarthy disputed that, saying he had been "living with her and living off her."

Neighbor John Freye of Elgin said Gail Peck moved in a few weeks ago, saying she wanted to be closer to relatives in Bartlett. "We talked to her a couple of times, but it wasn't much," he said.

Brian Peck had six felony convictions and four misdemeanor convictions, McCarthy said.

Gail Peck filed an order of protection against him in March 2016 in DuPage County, court records show. She told authorities her son put her in a chokehold and told her he was going to kill her after they argued over him playing loud music. She reportedly visited him in jail a few days later and told him she wanted no contact with him.

Brian Peck pleaded guilty in June 2016 to domestic battery causing bodily harm and was sentenced to 100 days in jail, court records show. His background also includes an August 2013 guilty plea to aggravated battery of a Lombard firefighter. In exchange, he was sentenced to 146 days in jail and one year of conditional discharge, records show.

• Daily Herald staff writer Justin Kmitch contributed to this story.

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