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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Old News for Locals, New News for a Newbie: Three bodies found in Evanston home

So you know that new friend Meg I wrote about a few posts ago in "Wildlife Sighting: Wood Duck on Hinman"? Well the other day we were chatting in her lovely backyard and she asked me if I knew the story about the house on Judson where they found all the dead people? Uh, no, the Chamber of Commerce Welcome Package didn't include the story about the four siblings who never left their home on Judson and as each one died, they were just left in their bed, covered by a sheet.

I had to run home and Google that story as the house is just around the corner from where we now live and I was CURIOUS to say the least. Turns out the story is creepy and sad and OLD as Bill Smith wrote about it in Evanston Now in 2008.

From Evanston Now: Police say a 90-year-old woman who lives at the home told them the three, all believed to be members of her immediate family, had been dead for some time...Authorities said Anita Bernstorff was last seen alive last May, Frank Bernstorff was last seen alive in April 2003 and Elaine Bernstorff was last seen alive in the early 1980s.

Police Commander Tom Guenther says it's not yet clear why the woman neglected to report the deaths to authorities. The cause of the deaths also has not yet been determined.

Police say each body was found in a different room, covered with a blanket.

Police discovered the bodies after they were alerted by a senior advocate employed by the city who had had prior contact with the woman.

And here's more info from The Chicago Tribune: By all accounts, none of the four Bernstorff siblings ever married or had children. Their parents, Frank and Lilian, died decades ago. Margaret Bernstorff was occasionally seen gardening in her yard and most recently attended a 4th of July block party. But neighbors said they never saw anyone visit the home, and it was rare for anyone but family to cross the Bernstorffs' threshold.

Al Redmond did odd jobs for Margaret Bernstorff and rented garage space from her. He said he went in the home only once and saw stacks of old newspapers—piledto the ceiling in some cases—in every room.

"She usually never let me in," Redmond said. "I just assumed she was embarrassed because of the way things were in there."

Wow! What a crazy story! Of course now that I know about it, I'm going to totally stare when I walk past the house on my way to Jewel. And I'm going to see what other coverage and analysis provides. Of course I also have to interview locals in the neighborhood to find out why four siblings never left the house after turning 25 - I thought people only did that in El Paso!

Moving someplace new is so exciting on so many levels especially during the "discovery phase"! We've been in Evanston for just about 10 months and this is the first time I'm hearing this story...oh joy for the stories to come!


Thank you for reading my blog "Evanston Newbie", a project that I am using to chronicle my new life in Evanston. Do you have favorite Evanston bakeries, bike shops, events that you can recommend? Send me an email at and I will post my review on this blog. -Lisa Degliantoni


  1. We do leave the house to go to whataburger!

  2. I was wondering if anyone would catch that snarky aside! We had neighbors in El Paso who were siblings, both in their 70s, had never moved out of their parent's home or married, and I just thought that was the creepiest thing on the planet. But this story is bizarro. Obviously the parents were buried. Maybe without jobs, the children couldn't afford funerals?