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Authorities: Darien-area man killed himself, wife, daughters slain

Homicide

DuPage County authorities are trying to make sense of a shocking tableau of death found in a house near Darien, after the coroner's office determined a man's wife and daughters were shot in homicides and the man killed himself.

David Andrus, 50, shot his wife, Jeana, 48, in the basement of their home Tuesday before going upstairs and shooting daughters Jessica, 22, and Jennifer, 16, according to sources. He then took his own life. After autopsies Wednesday, the DuPage County coroner made the preliminary determination that David Andrus' wife and daughters were shot in the face in homicides, and David Andrus shot himself in the head, according to a release from DuPage County Coroner Richard Jorgensen.

David Andrus' body was found atop one of his daughters, Jorgensen said Wednesday.

Andrus' motive remained elusive Wednesday night. The DuPage County sheriff was silent on the matter, but Midtronics, a Willowbrook-based maker of battery management products, said Andrus had been fired from the company, though a spokesman declined to say when or why. A law enforcement source said Andrus was fired after the company suspected he was stealing.

That left some who knew the Andruses wondering what dark objective could have driven the annihilation of an entire family.

"I just want to know why, when people decide to do this, they have to take all their loved ones with them," said Dawn Murphy, a longtime friend of Jeana Andrus'. "It's just so painful and wrong."

Real estate records show that the family lived in Bolingbrook until a few years ago, when it left for a two-story, wood-paneled house in the 500 block of Oldfield Road, just outside of Darien. The house was owned by David's mother, Betty, who died last year, probate records show.

Neighbors said David Andrus bought his two sisters' share of the house, and that two of Andrus' nephews joined the household last summer.

Rachel Steinhaus, who lives three houses away, said that on Tuesday afternoon she heard one of the nephews get into a shouting match with David Andrus, something she wrote off as a typical family argument.

A couple of hours later, she said, she heard a single pop, which she thought was the sound of the nephew slamming his car door and driving away. Only when her younger sister looked out the window and saw police officers swarming the home did she realize the sound might have been something more ominous.

Steinhaus said she called one of the nephews at work and told him to come home.

"He was trying to figure out what was going on," she said. "He called the house. He called everyone's cellphone that lived in the house."

The nephew then called a neighbor's home and found that his brother had fled there during the shootings, Steinhaus said.

Neither of the young men could be reached for comment Wednesday, but one wrote on his Facebook page: "I just don't know wat (sic) to do. I'm thankful I'm here."

Another of Andrus' nephews, Bradley David Glass, said the family was "deeply shocked."

"This is a seriously troubling time for our family," he wrote in an email to the Tribune. "They were the best family you could ask for. They'd bend over backward for you and help as much as they could. I just pray that God is protecting them now."

The deaths also stunned the family's neighbors and friends, who recalled Jeana Andrus as being generous and fun-loving despite years of financial hardship.

"Jeana had a big heart," said Stephen Turner, owner of USA Skate Center in Romeoville and Jeana's former boss. "She is someone who would give you the shirt off her back and didn't really have one to give."

Rita Johns said she was a 15-year friend of the couple. The two women met when Jeana Andrus was a nanny to Johns' goddaughter. Johns said David and Jeana Andrus were sweethearts at Romeoville High School and had been married for 27 years.

"She was a wonderful mom who was very, very involved with her kids," Johns said. "I cannot imagine what could have provoked this. This is not the actions of the David I knew. ... He was a loving and dedicated dad."

Jennifer was a junior-to-be at Hinsdale South High School, while Jessica was a member of the class of 2011, said Principal Brian Waterman.

A yearbook shows that Jennifer was on the bowling team last year, and some at USA Skate Center said she was a regular at the roller rink when her mom was working.

Danielle Berg, whose daughter Mathilda was close to Jennifer, described the girl as adventurous and funny, recalling an episode last summer when Jennifer joined an effort to put two boys from Berg's Romeoville neighborhood in homecoming dresses.

William Crubaugh, a friend who hung out with Jennifer, said he was not aware of any family discord; on the contrary, he said, David Andrus indulged his two girls.

"He gave them whatever they wanted," he said. "Jen had the nicer room in the house. She has the biggest room with her own bathroom. She got spoiled. That's why it's so shocking."

In the family's old Bolingbrook neighborhood, former neighbor Barbara Anderson said David Andrus had worked in various warehouses before moving to Darien in 2010. She also described him as outwardly untroubled.

"He was the nicest guy you would ever want to meet," she said.

The Andrus family plays a prominent role in the history of Darien, according to Darien Historical Society board member Dean Rodkin. She said David Andrus and his relatives were descended from Thomas Andrus, who built an inn near what is now Lemont Road and helped found the community of Cass in the 1830s.

Cass merged with the neighboring community of Lace in 1969, when the two incorporated as the village of Darien, Rodkin said.

The bloodshed on Oldfield Road marks the second time in three years high-profile slayings were committed in the neighborhood.

In March 2010, Jeffrey and Lori Kramer and their son, Michael, were slain in their home on Kilkenny Drive, just a few hundred feet from the Andrus home.

Last month, Johnny Borizov was convicted of sending a friend to murder the family. Both Borizov and his accomplice, Jacob Nodarse, are awaiting sentencing.

Murphy said USA Skate Center was planning a Saturday tribute to Jeana and Jennifer Andrus, though the full weight of the tragedy has yet to sink in.

"(Jeana) was one of the most loving, caring people you can imagine," Murphy said. "It just doesn't feel real."

Tribune reporters Diane Rado, Matthew Walberg, Annemarie Mannion, Rosemary Regina Sobol and Liam Ford and freelancers Amanda Marrazzo, Clifford Ward and Stewart Warren contributed.

cmgutowski@tribune.com

cdrhodes@tribune.com

jkeilman@tribune.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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