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Elk Grove Police: Apparent double-murder, suicide a family tragedy
By Russell Lissau and Madhu Krishnamurthy | Daily Herald Staff

The body of a man was found inside a flaming van in an Elk Grove Village soccer field.


Steve Lundy | Staff Photogrpaher

Elk Grove police keep people away from the crime scene.


Steve Lundy | Staff Photogrpaher

Elk Grove police investigate the scene of an apparent murder suicide.


Steve Lundy | Staff Photogrpaher

Elk Grove police are investigating an apparent double-murder suicide at the Boardwalk Condominiums.


Steve Lundy | Staff Photogrpaher

Aerial view of the crime scene in Elk Grove Village.


Courtesy, ABC7

Aerial view of the van in which a body was found this morning.


Courtesy, ABC7

Aerial view of the crime scene in Elk Grove Village.


Courtesy, ABC7

View of the van in which a body was found this morning.


Steve Lundy | Staff Photogrpaher

Officers at the scene of an apparent double homicide in Elk Grove Village.


Steve Lundy | Staff Photogrpaher

Engulfed in flames, the body of one family member was found inside this van near the condominium.


Submitted photo

Danielle Vonner of Rockford talks about one of the victims.


Steve Lundy | Staff Photogrpaher

An Elk Grove officer stands watch at the scne of the crime.


Steve Lundy | Staff Photogrpaher

Residents outside 109 Boardwalk in Elk Grove Village.


Steve Lundy | Staff Photogrpaher

Investigators examined the burned-out van where the body of one family member was found.


Steve Lundy | Staff Photogrpaher

A van driven by the suspect in an Elk Grove Village murder suicide is fully engulfed in flames outside of the apartment complex.


Submitted photo

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Published: 9/24/2010 10:34 AM | Updated: 9/24/2010 5:10 PM

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The apparent double-murder and suicide in Elk Grove Village this morning was a family tragedy, Elk Grove police are now saying.

Dead are a man and woman in their late 40s and her 24-year-old son, who attended Elk Grove High School. The mother and son were found shot to death in a garden-level condominium in the Boardwalk Condominium complex on the 100 block of Boardwalk, police said.

The stepfather shot himself and died inside a burning van, parked on a soccer field across the street from the condo complex where he lived, police said.

Elk Grove Deputy Police Chief Michael Kirkpatrick said police believe the mother and son were shot around 7:30 a.m. by her husband, who then got into his van and drove it onto the soccer and baseball field.

Kirkpatrick said police were called by neighbors inside the complex who heard the shots. He said officers were walking toward the van when they heard a rifle shot from inside it, and then heard several pops as the van caught fire.

Later, the rifle was found inside the van, he confirmed.

Police have not released their identities, other than to say they believe the family had lived in the Boardwalk complex for at least 15 years.

Friends, however, have confirmed the mother and stepfather are Nancy and Kenny Johnson, who they say were married for many years. Her son, Ken or "Kenny" Sova, was also the father of a 2-year-old son, Nicholas. The toddler was not in the condominium when his father died, police said.

As of 1:30 p.m. the bodies had not been removed from either the condo or the van, as police wait for the Cook County Medical Examiner to arrive, Kirkpatrick added. He said a forensics team is examining the bodies and autopsies would likely be conducted Saturday.

Police continue to block off the street near the crime scene, which is in the neighborhood northwest of Arlington Heights and Biesterfield roads.

A resident of the three-story condo building called police after hearing gunshots from a basement level condo around 7:30 a.m., said Kirkpatrick. Officers arrived, forced their way into the unit, and discovered the two bodies, he added.

Much of the north side of the condo complex remains roped off by yellow police tape and multiple squad cars surround the area. One of the windows in the basement condo has been removed by police, and the smell of the burned sulphur from the van lingered in the air. The reddish-brown van also remained parked in the field, scorched from the fire with some smoke rising from the driver's side.

A young woman outside the condo said she was a friend of Ken Sova.

"He's just a fantastic dad, he's a fabulous dad, a wonderful dad," said Danielle Bonner, who now lives in Rockford. "He spends a lot of time with his son, he has him ever weekend."

Bonner's mother still lives in the area and called her daughter whe she heard the news. Bonner and Sova both graduated from Elk Grove High School in 2004. Sova spent his high school years with Bonner teaching swimming lessons at the Pavilion in Elk Grove Village.

Bonner said she believed Sova was now a mattress salesman. She said his mother and stepfather had been married a long time and she thinks his birth father lives in Arizona.

She had no idea what would have caused Ken Johnson to kill his family.

"I would have never have thought of that from anyone in the household just going crazy and doing that," Bonner said.

The Major Case Assistance Team unit arrived around 11:30 a.m.

"We have a group of investigators who are helping us with a canvass of the neighborhood," Kirkpatrick added. "The forensic team is also here to help us with the crime scene work that needs to be done."

Children were already at the nearby Elk Grove Township Community Day Care Center, 711 Chelmsford Lane, this morning when the van was set on fire in the middle of the center's soccer field, said Township Supervisor Nanci Vanderweel.

"Until we knew for sure what was going on, we went into lockdown and moved the kids away from the side of the building near the field," she said. "Once the police told us there wasn't an immediate threat, we decided not to cancel school."

Elk Grove Village police called Vanderweel at about 8:20 a.m. on Friday and told her the man inside the van shot and killed his wife and son before lighting his van on fire and committing suicide, she said.

"As horrible as the crime is, the man had enough sense to set his car on fire in a place where there were no other cars or children," said Vanderweel, pointing out that no children witnessed his death.

• Staff Writers Ashok Selvam, Sheila Ahern and Kimberly Pohl contributed to this report.