Before trial, family recalls Elgin woman whose son is charged with killing, dismembering her

  • Gail Peck, who was murdered in 2017, was described as a sweet woman by a former neighbor in Oak Brook, where she lived for at least 15 years, and by neighbors in Elgin, where she moved before her death.

      Gail Peck, who was murdered in 2017, was described as a sweet woman by a former neighbor in Oak Brook, where she lived for at least 15 years, and by neighbors in Elgin, where she moved before her death. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Relatives describe Gail Peck as a loving friend and family member.

      Relatives describe Gail Peck as a loving friend and family member. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/15/2022 4:34 PM

More than four years after an Elgin woman lost her life over what authorities describe as a dispute involving loud music, the trial of her son -- the man charged with killing her -- is set to begin in Rolling Meadows.

Brian Peck, 59, is charged with murdering his 76-year-old mother Gail Peck on Oct. 25, 2017, in her Littleton Trail home. Her dismembered body was discovered in a Chicago lagoon.

 

Peck, who is being held without bail at Cook County jail, has pleaded not guilty. His trial is scheduled to start Monday, Jan. 24.

Gail Peck and her cousin Dennis Pascual pose together in this undated photo.
  Gail Peck and her cousin Dennis Pascual pose together in this undated photo. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Gail Peck's cousins say mother and son had a difficult history, but Dennis Pascual remembers Gail as the life of the party.

"She was always fun to be with," said Pascual, who as a child lived in the apartment next door to Gail's family in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood.

"People gravitated to her because of the personality she had," he said of the retired Realtor. "She was very accepting of everyone. She had no suspicion of strangers; she welcomed them."

Gail was also something of a character, said Beverly Pascual, Dennis' wife.

While having dinner at Gail Peck's home one night, Beverly noticed something odd about the chandelier. Looking closer, she spotted jewelry hanging from the fixture.

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"It looked funny," Beverly Pascual said, laughing. "That was where she kept her jewelry."

After living in Oak Brook for 20 years, Gail Peck relocated to a ranch-style Elgin home about two months before her death. Her new neighbors described Gail as soft-spoken and friendly, recalling her walking her dog, a bichon named Doris.

Dennis Pascual said he and Gail spoke on the phone one to three times a week. So he became worried when he received a call from her sister informing him Gail was missing and urging him to call Brian.

Brian Peck
Brian Peck -

Pascual said he spoke with Brian in the morning, and he told him Doris had returned home trailing a leash and police were out looking for Gail. Pascual called back later that afternoon and got no response.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Concerned, he contacted Elgin police to inquire about the search for Gail and Brian's whereabouts. An investigator told him Brian was "in a safe place" but offered no other details.

The officer's statement raised a red flag with Pascual.

"It wasn't until later that we got the call Brian was being held," he said.

In 2017, Dennis Pascual talked about his cousin Gail Peck, who was murdered in her Elgin home.
  In 2017, Dennis Pascual talked about his cousin Gail Peck, who was murdered in her Elgin home. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer, 2017

Family members had warned Gail to distance herself from Brian, who authorities say had four misdemeanor and six felony convictions, including convictions for battery in 2016 and 2013. Brian Peck received a prison sentence for computer fraud and identity theft and served time in jail for battery, prosecutors said.

Relatives say Brian Peck struggled with substance abuse and had mental health issues. In a Daily Herald interview shortly after Gail Peck's death, Pascual said mother and son got into "explosive arguments," after which she would ask him to leave and he would beg to return.

Records show DuPage County sheriff's officers responded to domestic calls in 2012 and 2016 at Gail Peck's Oak Brook home. She received orders of protection each time but soon agreed to let him return.

"She took Brian back many times when she should not have," said Beverly Pascual, who remembered being on the phone with Gail and hearing screaming, crying and cussing in the background.

According to Cook County prosecutors, on the last night of her life, Gail Peck and her son had dinner at a Schaumburg restaurant and later argued over Brian Peck playing loud Jimi Hendrix music. During the confrontation, authorities say he knocked his mother down, stomped on her and used a saw to dismember her.

Prosecutors say that hours after the murder Peck used his mother's debit card to withdraw $500 from her checking account and canceled the cleaning lady scheduled for that day.

Two days later, Peck reported his mother missing, claiming she left to walk the dog and never returned, according to authorities.

Gail Peck, a 76-year-old woman who was murdered in 2017, lived on the 700 block of Littleton Trail in Elgin.
  Gail Peck, a 76-year-old woman who was murdered in 2017, lived on the 700 block of Littleton Trail in Elgin. - Rick West | Staff Photographer

In the interim, prosecutors say, he transferred $4,000 from his mother's savings account to her checking account. Additionally, they say he purchased cleaning supplies, paver bricks, three tarps, nylon cord, a five-piece luggage set and a steam vacuum cleaner. Some of those transactions were captured on video surveillance.

A search of the home revealed blood stains in Gail Peck's bedroom and bathroom, as well as on the washing machine and the underside of the steam cleaner, prosecutors said.

A fisherman found a duffel bag containing body parts and a handsaw in a rowing lagoon on the 2200 block of North Stockton Drive, authorities said. Members of the Chicago Police Department's marine unit subsequently retrieved a suitcase containing a female torso. It was weighed down by paver bricks.

The remains were identified as those of Gail Peck.

Dennis Pascual, now 84 and living in Indiana, say it's unlikely he will attend the trial.

He says his Christian faith calls him to forgive. Unable to do so at this point, he nevertheless refuses to become bitter.

"I don't want hate to take over my personal life," he said. "It's never a good thing for anybody to be ruled by hate or vindictiveness."

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