Details remain scarce on what led to killings of four family members near Crystal Lake

  • Authorities say it will be months before they release additional details about what's been described as the domestic-related killings of four family members in a home near Crystal Lake.

      Authorities say it will be months before they release additional details about what's been described as the domestic-related killings of four family members in a home near Crystal Lake. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, August 2023

By Claire O’Brien and Michelle Meyer
Shaw Local News Network
Updated 9/5/2023 12:56 PM

Ashlyn Nolan was in her Crystal Lake-area home watching the TV morning news Aug. 9 and getting ready for a nap before heading to work later in the day when her doorbell rang.

It was around 9 a.m., and police investigators were at her door regarding an overnight shooting three doors down on the 5800 block of Wild Plum Road. Her fiancé had come home from work that morning to find police vehicles all over their street. He had to ask for permission to park in their driveway.


Police, who would later disclose that four family members were killed in a domestic attack down the block, asked Nolan if she had seen or heard anything, or whether she had security footage that might help their investigation.

"We had the windows open and didn't hear anything," Nolan said, adding that she was up about the time of the shooting and considered going to the mailbox to check for mail she thought she forgot.

It's been almost a month since four adult family members died in a reported shooting in their home near Crystal Lake. But beyond saying that an unidentified woman who called 911 survived the attack, there has been little else from authorities.

The McHenry County Coroner's Office and the McHenry County Sheriff's Office have not provided updated information on the deaths of Jean Song, 44; Lauren Smith-Song, 32; Chang Song, 73; and Yuna Song, 49., including the official cause of their deaths.

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Police said the woman who survived was in the hospital in serious condition on Aug. 10. Her name, current condition and other details have not been released.

Jean Song, described as the suspected "aggressor," died from his injuries after being taken to a hospital, police said.

Authorities say that it will take "months" for additional details to be released, since it is considered an ongoing investigation.

After the killings, the Northwest Herald submitted Freedom of Information Act requests with the McHenry County Sheriff's Office for the recordings of the 911 call and police dashcam and bodycam footage, among other records. Both requests were denied, with the sheriff's office citing the ongoing investigation as the reason for the denials.

Other details were included in police reports.

The Song family had two cats in the home named Eleanor and Theodore, according to McHenry County Animal Control records. Theodore was taken by animal control care and adopted Aug. 22, but Eleanor was not found by police or the cleaning company who entered the home as of Aug. 16.


According to police reports, the back door of the home appeared to have been broken into at about midnight on Aug. 16. Police entered the home and did not find anyone in there and nothing appeared to be stolen.

Neighbor Debra Gummerson described the neighborhood as "very friendly" and said there has not been any suspicious activity. She did see "looky-loos" in the days following the shooting, but the neighborhood generally has been kept in the dark in regard to updates.

She expressed concern for the surviving woman, saying "everyone is concerned" about her.

"I couldn't imagine going back to that house," she said. "We don't know how to help and we all want to."

Nolan said she, too, saw people driving slowly around the cul-de-sac in the days after the killings, but sees fewer now.

"It's not really respectful," Nolan said. "They're also invading our privacy."

Still, Nolan said she is thankful police were there early on Aug. 9, and she isn't upset there haven't been many updates since.

"They don't owe me anything," Nolan said.

Neighbor Cathy Berry said she hasn't heard any answers or updates, other than what is on the news.

"How do you go forward?" Berry said. "The whole thing is just so so sad."

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