An Illinois man allegedly shot his wife then himself over coronavirus fears

coronavirus test
Coronavirus test.

Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP

  • Police say Patrick Jesernik shot his wife Cheryl Jesernik, then himself, on Thursday.

  • He'd reportedly told family members that he was afraid he and his wife had contracted the novel coronavirus.

  • Experts predicted the stresses of the pandemic and lockdown could lead to an uptick in domestic violence.

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A man in Chicago suburb Lockport Township killed his wife and then himself this week, police say. On Thursday evening, police responded to a wellbeing check at the couple's home, where they found Patrick Jesernik, 54, and Cheryl Schriefer, 59, dead, NBC Chicago reported. An autopsy found that each died from a single gunshot wound to the head.

The couple's family told police that Jesernik was afraid that they both had COVID-19, the coronavirus disease. Schriefer was reportedly tested for the virus two days earlier after having trouble breathing but hadn't yet gotten results.

When they arrived, police found Jesernik and Schriefer in separate rooms, with a loaded revolver near Jesernik's body. Jesernik's death was ruled a suicide, and Schrieffer's death had been ruled a homicide. Authorities have said that both tested negative for COVID-19. Illinois has more than 10,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 243 deaths as of reporting.

Domestic violence surges

The Sheriff's office in Will County, where the incident took place, told NBC that the majority of 911 calls during the outbreak so far have been over domestic disputes. As the coronavirus spreads across the US and more people are under lockdown orders, experts predicted a surge in domestic violence.

One executive from the National Domestic Abuse Hotline told The New York Times that she expects to see intensity and frequency of domestic violence increase with the pandemic as the organization works to manage an increased caseload and new challenges.

This pattern reflects other disasters, including 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, which also saw upticks in abuse. Experts connect the stresses and loss of control of disasters like 9/11 or the coronavirus with increases in abusive behavior. Nine large metropolitan police departments, including Portland and Boston, have already seen more than a 20% increase in domestic violence calls.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Call 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522

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