Steve Henning returned home from work around 3 p.m. on Aug. 28 after he couldn’t get in touch with his wife.
Upon arriving at his house, ABC Chicago reports, he found his wife and twin daughters had been shot to death inside the bathroom of their suburban Chicago home. He read a note that his wife had left behind and immediately called the police.
The Joliet Police Department confirmed that a woman and two children had been found dead in the home.
The incident is currently being handled as a murder-suicide, though Police Chief Brian Benton said in a media release that the cause of death has not been determined at this time:
This is an on-going investigation into a very tragic incident and at this time we are not prepared to comment on the cause of death or identities of those involved.
The Will County Coroner’s office later identified the family members as 41-year-old Celisa Henning, 5-year-old Addison Henning, and 5-year-old Makayla Henning.
Coroner identifies mother as Celisa Henning, 41 & her twin girls Addison & Makayla, 6. Police believe mom shot & killed herself & her girls. pic.twitter.com/Jq1Af9KRo9
— Courtney Gousman (@cgousman) August 29, 2017
According to a preliminary autopsy report, published in the Chicago Tribune, all three of the family members died from gunshot wounds to the head. The twins suffered from with multiple gunshot wounds, Celisa had one.
Friends and family members were shocked by the allegation that Celisa would shoot her daughters then turn the gun on herself.
Neighbor Adele Bryant told ABC that Addison and Makayla were good children who loved their mother:
“They were very excited about school. Always helping mom. Very close to her mom.”
The girls had recently started kindergarten and were going to turn 6 years old in a few weeks. According to Patch, they were reported absent from school that day.
A close friend of the family, Taraus Campbell, told the Tribune that the family appeared “for the most part a happy household.”
— Daily Southtown (@DailySouthtown) August 29, 2017
As reported by Patch, a friend commented on Facebook that Celisa had been suffering from depression before she got married eight years ago and had recently been dealing with health issues.
Her father-in-law, Dennis Henning, told the Tribune that she had been a “troubled girl.”
The note Celisa wrote may contain more information on the incident. Deputy Police Chief Al Roechner confirmed the existence of the note to Patch but noted that its contents would remain confidential:
“We are not going to be discussing anything in that note […] we’re not going to be commenting out of respect for the dad and the grandparents. There’s no reason to drag the family through the mud. It’s tough. It’s just sad. These are unique ones. It’s sad.”
Roechner also told the Patch that Celisa had not been receiving treatment for her depression and encouraged others to seek help:
“If anybody is going through anything, they need to realize they can call a helpline. Call somebody. Call me. I’ll help them. I’m being honest. This probably could have been prevented, maybe.”
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America defines depression as a condition where an individual may feel sad, hopeless, disinterested, or discouraged. Most depression is temporary, but if it lasts longer than two weeks, it can impact a person’s thoughts and actions.
Via Anxiety and Depression Association of America and Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (AL)
Some forms of depression can lead people consider suicide. Depression is one of the most common forms of mental illnesses, and it is treatable.
If you are suffering from depression or are considering suicide, you can call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK.
The Henning family has asked for privacy as the investigation continues. Steve told ABC that he’s taking some time to grieve for his family.
The Tribune reports that Steve has been seen a few times near the front of his house as neighbors continue to fill his yard with flowers and songs.