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ROMEOVILLE, Ill. (WLS) — Nearly three months after a shooter executed a mother, father, their two young children and the family’s three dogs, the ABC7 I-Team has learned new details of how the murders occurred in southwest suburban Romeoville, who police said was responsible and glimpses of a motive.
On September 17, the bodies of Alberto Rolon, Zoraida Bartolomei and their boys Adriel, 9, and Diego, 7, were found inside the family’s home on a quiet suburban block.
As the I-Team reported early in the investigation, police suspected Nathaniel Huey Jr. was the killer, but they provided no details about how the murder plot had come together.
On Thursday, after learning that the I-Team was going to reveal new information and video evidence in the case, Romeoville police said they were going to release selected new information from the investigation.
In a noon-hour written statement, authorities said: “The investigation has revealed that Zoraida Bartolomei and the suspect, Nathaniel Huey Jr. had a relationship together. The existence of this relationship was known both by Bartolomei’s husband, Alberto Rolon and Huey Jr.’s girlfriend, Ermalinda Palomo.”
While investigators are not saying the victim and shooter had an estranged relationship, or whether this was a secret romance-gone-sour, the admission by police that the mother and the shooter had “a relationship together” is the first solid suggestion of a possible motive.
The I-Team has learned that detectives have video and digital evidence that Palomo accompanied Huey, Jr. to the murder scene and drove the getaway vehicle.
“Evidence indicates Palomo had prior knowledge of Huey Jr.’s intent to commit the murders, was involved in the planning, and drove the vehicle to the crime scene” the police statement read. “Digital evidence shows the path of the vehicle used to commit the crime traveling from Huey Jr.’s and Palomo’s home in Streamwood, Illinois to the 500 block of Concord in Romeoville and back to Streamwood at the time the murders took place. Huey Jr. exited and re-entered the offending vehicle from the passenger side and Palomo was the driver of the vehicle.”
After the murders, Palomo’s family filed an “endangered persons” report with suburban police, and said they believed she left against her will.
The family, through their attorney JohnPaul Ivec, sent the I-Team a statement saying, in part, that they “had no previous knowledge” that police considered Palomo a participant in a quadruple murder plot.
Days after the execution-style killings, Huey Jr. and Palomo were spotted by law enforcement in Oklahoma.
A license plate reader alerted authorities to the couple’s black GMC parked in a Walmart parking, while the two were shopping inside.
The I-Team obtained surveillance footage showing what Palomo and Huey were doing, less than an hour before the pursuit, fiery crash and shooting that ended with them both dead.
In the video, obtained through a public records request, the couple can be seen holding hands, and buying what appears to be hair dye, a burner phone, and other cosmetic supplies.
ABC 7 Police Affairs Consultant and former suburban police chief Bill Kushner reviewed the footage, and said at no point did it appear Palomo was endangered.
With regards to the items purchased, Kushner said the couple displayed the hallmark signs of being on the run.
“You don’t want to be caught, you don’t want to be found, if you’re going to change your appearance,” Kushner told the I-Team. “This is almost a Hollywood plot.”
The fugitive couple can be seen leaving the store, laughing and looking relaxed, unaware that investigators with the Catoosa Police Department were waiting for them in the parking lot.
Following a brief chase, the couple’s car crashed into an expressway divider and burst into flames. As authorities arrived, gunshots were heard.
Huey was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Palomo was pulled out of the burning vehicle alive, but died later that day in the hospital. Both of them had gunshot wounds.
The Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s office said its investigation into the cause and manner of their deaths is still under investigation.
Romeoville Police tell the I-Team it will take weeks to determine all aspects of what happened to the family, including a complete description of the motive for murdering an entire family.
Investigators say they are still awaiting some forensic tests results to close the case, which could be in the coming months.