(RICHLAND CENTER, Wis., February 17th, 2004, 11:30 a.m.) -- An 18-year-old man was arrested early Tuesday in Kentucky in the slayings of his parents and an uncle, whose bodies were found Monday at a rural Richland County farmhouse, authorities said.
Stephen J. Tomporowski, 52, and his wife, Deborah Tomporowski, 48, both of Westchester, Ill., the parents of the man caught, and Roger M. Tomporowski, 56, of Arlington Heights, Ill., an uncle of the man, were found Monday morning at a farmhouse in the town of Henrietta, Sheriff Darrell Berglin said.
The victims had been shot, Berglin said.
Steven M. Tomporowski, also of Westchester, was arrested on an interstate highway in Kentucky operating a vehicle that was missing from the crime scene, Berglin said. The teenager had been using stolen credit cards for gas while fleeing across the country, the sheriff said.
An arrest warrant issued in Richland County accuses Tomporowski of three counts of first degree-intentional homicide, the sheriff said.
The victims have connections with relatives who own the rural farmhouse about 15 miles northeast of Richland Center, Berglin said.
"They came up this weekend, but I can't tell you the order of what transpired because it is still part of an ongoing investigation," the sheriff said. "Perhaps, they were just getting away for a while and borrowed the family member's cabin."
Berglin declined comment on what might have prompted the slayings.
Asked why the son of two of the victims became a suspect, the sheriff said, "Probable cause just led in that direction. ... I am not going to release information that is going to jeopardize this investigation."
Sgt. Michael McIntyre of the Arlington Heights, Ill., police department said officers got a call Monday around 11:20 p.m. from a woman who requested that officers keep an eye on the house in which she was staying because her husband had been killed in Wisconsin by a relative. Officers talked with the woman and patrolled the house until authorities heard a suspect had been arrested, McIntyre said.
The bodies were found after the sheriff's department was asked to check the farmhouse because the family did not return from the weekend trip, Berglin said.
Deputies who went to the home first found one dead body and then found the other two after a sweep of the farmhouse, Chief Deputy Tom Hougan said.
Autopsies were planned Tuesday on the three victims, Berglin said.
Westchester, Ill., Police Chief Bob Smith said his department was notified Monday about 1 p.m. by Richland County about the deaths and that Steven M. Tomporowski was being sought.
Westchester officers went to the Tomporowski home in the Chicago suburb to see if anyone was home and, when no one answered, they stayed there in case Steven showed up, Smith said.
Wisconsin officials notified Westchester authorities that an arrest warrant had been issued for Steven, and Westchester police got a search warrant for the house, where they found pistols, rifles and shotguns, the Westchester chief said.
The teenager held in the slayings ran away from home in October 2002 for a couple of days, but then returned, Smith said.
Smith said the police knew of no other incidents at the Tomporowski home.
The Christian County, Ky., Sheriff's Department spotted a car on Interstate 24 near Hopkinsville at 3:14 a.m., Christian County Police Sgt. Steve Tucker said.
Tucker, a spokesman for both the sheriff's department and the police department, said the driver continued for five miles at normal speed after the officer tried to stop him, but then pulled over and surrendered without resistance.
Tomporowski is charged in Christian County with fleeing and evading and receiving stolen property. He is scheduled to appear Wednesday in Christian County District Court at Hopkinsville.