1 member of family slain in suburban Chicago was in relationship with shooting suspect, police say

ROMEOVILLE, Ill. (AP) — The suspect in the September shooting deaths of a suburban Chicago family was in a relationship with one of the four people slain and his girlfriend allegedly helped plan the killings, police investigators said.

Alberto Rolon, Zoraida Bartolomei, and their two sons, ages 7 and 9, were found shot to death on Sept. 17 in their home in Romeoville, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southwest of Chicago. Days later, suspect Nathaniel Huey Jr., 31, died in a car crash in Oklahoma that also killed his girlfriend, Ermalinda Palomo.

The Romeoville Police Department said Thursday in a posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, that detectives have determined that Huey and Bartolomei “had a relationship together” and that Rolon and Palomo were both aware of it.

Police said their investigation is nearly complete and the “evidence indicates Palomo had prior knowledge of Huey Jr.'s intent to commit the murders, was involved in the planning, and drove the vehicle to the crime scene."

Police said “digital evidence” shows that vehicle traveled from Huey and Palomo's home in Streamwood, Illinois, to the victims' home in Romeoville, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) away, and then back to Streamwood “at the time the murders took place.”

Palomo drove the vehicle, with Huey as the passenger, and evidence shows he “exited and re-entered” the vehicle during that drive, police said.

The Chicago Tribune reported Thursday that a Sept. 17 Romeoville police bulletin it obtained through an open records request named Huey as a suspect in the quadruple homicide, advised that he had stopped going to work and was aware police were pursuing him, describing him as acting “irrational and erratic.”

A Streamwood police report from Sept. 19 states that about a month before Romeoville police found the family shot to death at home, Palomo had asked Huey to leave, prompting him to threaten to “take everyone down,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

That report adds that another member of Huey’s household called police on Sept. 19 to report Palomo as a missing person and said Palomo had left the house earlier that day and described her as “fearful.”

“She was very scared and kept telling (the caller) ‘I love you,’” the report stated.

Later on the morning of Sept. 19, Catoosa, Oklahoma, police found Huey dead and Palomo critically injured with gunshot wounds in a crashed, burning vehicle. Palomo died shortly afterward in a local hospital, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Palomo’s family attorney, JohnPaul Ivec, said in a statement in September that Palomo “had nothing to do” with the Romeoville killings and the family knows “without a shadow of a doubt that at the time of the murders in Romeoville, Ermalinda was home sleeping.”

Ivec said Friday the family was aware of Thursday’s statement by Romeoville police but that he and the family wonder how police learned what they claim in their statement, saying “they make a conclusion but they don’t say how they know.”

When asked what the family’s reaction was to the police allegation that Palomo was involved in planning the killings, he said they had no comment.

“They’re not making any more comments. They’re just trying to heal,” Ivec told The Associated Press.

The Romeoville family’s death marked the 35th mass killing in the U.S. this year, according to a database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University. Since then, there have been a total of 42 mass killings in the U.S., it shows.

At least 217 people have died this year in those killings, which are defined as incidents in which four or more people have died within a 24-hour period, not including the killer — the same definition used by the FBI.