Joliet police still investigating apparent murder-suicide

Questions linger on how tragedy occurred

JOLIET – A 41-year-old mother who died with her young twin daughters from gunshot wounds to their heads in an apparent murder-suicide had complained that her "body felt like it was on fire," said the children’s grandmother.

Norma Henning said Tuesday Celisa Henning had been suffering health problems since a car accident but declined to specify what was troubling her daughter-in-law. She said she had seen 20 to 30 doctors and visited the Mayo Clinic but she was “just at her wits' end.”

“We never, never suspected something like this. None of us,” Norma Henning has said.

Questions still linger about the deaths of Celisa Henning and her two daughters Makayla and Addison Henning.

Police are investigating the case as an apparent murder-suicide and the Will County Coroner’s Office said preliminary autopsy results indicate Celisa Henning died from a single gunshot wound to the head while her daughters suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the head.

Joliet Police Chief Brian Benton declined to comment further on the case Wednesday out of "respect for the family," saying that Steven Henning, husband to Celisa Henning and father their two daughters, is in pain.

“It’s a pretty sensitive one. It’s not like an average shooting,” Benton said.

The coroner’s office said the final cause and manner of the three deaths will be determined upon the conclusion of the police investigation and autopsy and toxicological reports.

Funeral home selection for the mother and two children is pending.

All three were pronounced dead Monday evening in their home on North Reed Street. Police have said officers were called to the home at about 3 p.m. and were met by a family member who directed them inside the house where the bodies were found.

Benton said police found all three bodies in the home’s bathroom but declined to comment on how they were positioned.

Benton also declined to comment when asked about the type of firearm that killed Celisa Henning and her daughters, or who owned it. He recommended The Herald-News file a Freedom of Information Act request on the case.

Questions sent to Joliet Police Deputy Chief Al Roechner on the type of gun used in the incident, who owned it or where it came from went unanswered Wednesday.

Two Joliet police officers in plainclothes visited the home late Tuesday morning but declined to comment on why they were inside the home. People have been coming in and out of the home since Tuesday morning. One man brought a bucket of items and mops to the home.

Norma Henning said she didn’t remember when the car accident Celisa Henning was in occurred. On Aug. 11, Celisa Henning filed a lawsuit against Carol D. Salinas, 61, of Joliet, over a Oct. 19, 2015, car accident.

Police cited Salinas for failure to reduce speed. She pleaded guilty the following month and was fined $120.

The lawsuit accused Salinas of causing Celisa Henning's internal and external injuries of “permanent, lasting, disability and disfiguring nature to her body, mind, limbs and nervous system,” including a lumbar injury.

Norma Henning said her son Steven is broken up over the tragedy.

Neighbors and community members have mourned the deaths of Celisa Henning and her daughters. Scott and Michelle Holladay remembered her family as normal and quiet. Celisa Henning would walk around the neighborhood with her daughters, Michelle Holladay said.

Neighbor Janet Palkon said Celisa Henning’s daughters were “sweet little girls.” She and two other women wrapped ribbons around trees near and at the home where the deaths occurred.

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