Father grew volatile, erratic leading up to Illinois family’s deaths: ‘So many red flags’

CHICAGO — The five people found dead in a Buffalo Grove home Wednesday were likely killed in a murder-suicide carried out by Andrei Kisliak, police said Monday, as court records showed Kisliak growing more volatile and erratic in the weeks leading up to his family’s deaths.

The preliminary investigation indicates Andrei Kisliak, 39, killed his two daughters, 6-year-old Vivian Kisliak and 4-year-old Amilia Kisliak; his wife, Vera Kisliak, 36; and Lilia Kisliak, 67, Buffalo Grove police Chief Brian Budds said in a Monday news release. The Lake County coroner’s autopsies of the five deceased, carried out Thursday, showed the cause of death for all the family members to be from “sharp force injuries.”

“It appears Andrei then inflicted wounds on himself and succumbed to those wounds,” Budds said in the news release.

Lilia Kisliak’s relationship to Andrei Kisliak hasn’t been confirmed by officials. An animal was also found dead at the home, Budds said Thursday.

Buffalo Grove police discovered the five dead Kisliak family members Wednesday at 11:12 a.m. after being called to the family’s home to conduct a well-being check. When no one answered, officers forced their way into the home and found the bodies inside, village officials said.

“On Wednesday our community was shaken to the core by the horrific news. Our dear friend and caring neighbor Vera and her two precious little girls Vivian (Vivi) and Amilia (Amilusha) were brutally murdered inside their home,” wrote Natasha Kuzmenko, an organizer of the GoFundMe to help pay for the family’s funeral expenses. “Vera was a devoted and a loving mom to a fun loving, energetic, always smiling ... Vivi and delicate, kind, sweet ... Amilusha. She did her best to keep them safe and happy but their lives were cut too short in the most gruesome way.”

According to Kuzmenko, the fundraiser will be used to help bury the family overseas, where Vera Kisliak’s family lives.

“As you can imagine, they were not at all prepared for the financial burden that comes along with a proper funeral service, burial and the transportation costs as they would like to lay them to rest in their hometown,” Kuzmenko wrote. “All the donations will be going to offset these costs.”

Police declined to publicly label the tragedy a murder-suicide in the days following the bodies’ discovery. But court records show before Andrei Kisliak allegedly carried out the slayings the Kisliak family faced a foreclosure and a contentious, ongoing divorce, reported by the Tribune Thursday.

Further examination of court records show Andrei Kisliak’s behavior growing more volatile in recent months leading up to the killings.

“(Andrei) has been aggressive, verbally abusive, intimidating, domineering, belittling, degrading, and just wreaked complete havoc. My children are afraid of him. I am afraid of him,” according to a Sept. 14 order of protection Vera Kisliak had obtained.

The couple married in 2013 in Minsk, Belarus, and their daughters were born several years later, according to court records.

But the marriage was an unhappy one, at least in the end, according to friends of Vera Kisliak.

“There were so many red flags,” said Liliya Dzhorayeva, who lives about eight houses down from the family.

Dzhorayeva said Vera Kisliak was close with Dzhorayeva’s mother, a fixture in the neighborhood. She said Vera Kisliak would confide what was going on at home in conversations conducted in Russian, Dzhorayeva said, including the “gruesome” things her husband threatened to do to her.

“She said to my mom that no matter what, he says that the girls are his, she is his and the house is his,” Dzhorayeva said.

When Dzhorayeva had seen that the road in her neighborhood was blocked off by the family’s house, she knew that something was wrong, and said she mouthed to her husband, not wanting to say it aloud in front of her children: “It’s Vera.”

According to court records, Vera and Andrei Kisliak both filed for divorce on July 8. Those same records show that Vera was fearful of her husband, describing him on Aug. 23 as “belligerent, hostile, and threatening.”

She alleged that her husband told her if she did not stop with the divorce pleadings, he would “go to Belarus and kill my family. After that, he will travel to Poland and kill my sister and cut off her head. He will then bring all of this to the U.S. to show me.”

And she also wrote that he threatened to “kill me and disfigure me in a way that no one will recognize me. (Andrei) keeps a gun at home, and I am afraid that he will use it on me.”

According to Vera’s affidavit, a Lake County judge on Aug. 30 granted her “exclusive possession of the marital home and prohibited (Andrei) from coming into the home” unless the court approved or he was with law enforcement. The last proceeding for their divorce was held Tuesday, the day before family members were found dead, according to court documents.

On Sept. 11, Vera Kisliak alleged in her affidavit, Andrei Kisliak entered the house “even though he is not supposed to be there.” She alleged that he “made a big deal” about a friend who was over and she called the police. She wrote that Andrei Kisliak started smoking marijuana in front of the police when they arrived and that they took him to the hotel he was staying at. “Before he left, he told me that he will see me tomorrow,” according to the affidavit.

One day earlier, on Sept. 10, Vera Kisliak wrote that Andrei Kisliak came to the house and went to sleep. She called the police, who escorted him out, according to her sworn affidavit.

While the divorce proceedings continued, Vera alleged that Andrei “constantly drives by the house and comes to the house as he pleases” and that even though he was ordered to vacate their home, “he does whatever he wants.”

Vera Kisliak obtained an emergency order of protection against her husband on sept 14 and Buffalo Grove police arrested Andrei Kisliak on Sept. 30 for violating the protection order, additional court records reveal. He later left Lake County Jail after posting a $5,000 bond. The violation case last went to court on Nov. 17, and another hearing was scheduled for Dec. 13.

In her order of protection, Vera Kisliak said her husband “smokes a lot of marijuana” and that she believed he was using other drugs, calling him “unpredictable” and “volatile.”

Court records show that Andrei Kisliak had been found to “be in indirect civil contempt of court” in the divorce proceedings, and he was “loud, animated and disrupted” during the proceedings, ignoring instructions to stop interrupting. On Sept. 14, he was sentenced to five days in Lake County Jail by Judge Marnie Slavin as “a sanction for his direct criminal contempt” of court as a result of repeated outbursts during a hearing in the couple’s ongoing divorce case relating to her order of protection.

According to court records from the Sept. 14 hearing, Andrei Kisliak “became more agitated, rolling his eyes, glaring at the opposing attorney, and raising his voice,” and “began screaming and used the word ‘f---’ while yelling about the unfairness of the purge” relating to their divorce case.

He had also filed for an order of protection against Vera Kisliak in August, alleging that his wife was also volatile, and not helping with his expenses, but his petition was denied.

On Nov. 9, a mortgage lending company opened a foreclosure case on the home where the slayings occurred on the 2800 block of Acacia Terrace. The company alleged it had received no mortgage payments since July 2020, according to court records.

Legal filings indicate that Andrei Kisliak had multiple closed court cases. A representative from the Lake County Circuit Court clerk said Thursday that some court records pertaining to Andrei Kisliak were currently unavailable.

Cook County court documents show that on Dec. 29, 2011, a misdemeanor domestic battery charge was filed against Andrei Kisliak. The case was dropped in February 2012 after the complaining witness didn’t show up in court. And in early October, Deerfield police cited him with littering and he was scheduled to go to court for that citation on Dec. 12.

Neighbor Baron Harmon said he used to pass by the Kisliak household every day on his daily walks around the subdivision, which he said is normally quiet. Over the last couple of years, he said he got to know young Vivian and Amilia and looked forward to interacting with the “good-natured” children.

”They’ve got Amilia, that’s the baby, and Vivian, she was a little older, more serious,” Harmon said. “But the baby, (Amilia), was a little angel. (Amilia) would come down and she would, like, hand me something, like a rubber duck or fur ball or something. I would palm it, pretend that I ate it and I would pull it out of her ear. She would love that, she would come and look for all kinds of stuff for me to eat and pull out of her ear. She was just an adorable kid.”

Harmon now thinks back to one of his final interactions with the family, which he said was two days before they were found dead, and he said he witnessed Andrei Kisliak adding air to tires of one of the cars he was often arguing with Vera about. Andrei Kisliak had been ordered by a Lake County court to turn over at least one of their cars for her use, records indicate.

Harmon called the car situation a “tussle,” noting that Vera did not make much money at her job and that she was forced to spend a lot of her income on taking Uber rides to and from work. He said he knew things had turned ugly in the divorce.

As he passed by that day, though, Harmon said it seemed like things might have been improving.

”(Andrei) waved at me, (Vera) waved at me and Amilia came bouncing up to me and said, ‘My daddy’s home,’” Harmon said. “I’m thinking to myself, well, maybe it worked out for them for the holidays.”

But, ”it wasn’t that good,” Harmon said. “The man was a monster.”


(Chicago Tribune’s Maddie Ellis, Jake Sheridan and Adriana Perez contributed to this story.)