CHICAGO (CBS) — Questions persisted Thursday about what happened in the hours and days prior to the discovery of a body and explosives in a Streeterville high-rise the night before.
The discovery of the explosives in a unit in the high-rise at 240 E. Illinois St. late Wednesday forced the evacuation of several floors and the shutdown of several major roadways – including part of Lake Shore Drive for a time.
As CBS 2’s Chris Tye reported, the man who lived in the unit and stored those explosives was a genius. He aced the ACT before heading to some of America’s most elite colleges.
He was also described by some as a loner. And he was a singular figure who rattled the neighborhood over the last 24 hours.
Inside a white blast-proof container leaving the apartment in the Illinois Street high-rise late Wednesday was the chemical lead azide (Pb(N3)2) – an explosive agent used to deploy, among other things, airbags.
It belonged to Ted Hilk, 30. What it was doing in possession of the Chicago high-rise resident remained unclear late Thursday.
Police discovered Hilk’s body in his messy seventh-floor apartment. They believe he had been dead for quite a while.
Hilk’s body was discovered overnight Tuesday into Wednesday. Police sources told CBS 2 new information led them to return hours later to discover “multiple explosive devices” in the unit.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday said the devices were not pipe bombs.
Neighbors knew Hilk as a bright tenant.
“Somebody was googling them, and he seems like he had a pretty educated background. So we were more worried, what was he doing, what was he thinking?” a neighbor said.
Nervous neighbors have been left to wonder about motive, but they’re spot-on about that educated background. Hilk scored a perfect 36 on his ACT before attending MIT.
“I have known only a handful who have scored a 36,” said Carolyn Devane, who was Hilk’s high school counselor in suburban Kansas City. “I think his greatest struggle at times might have been the social side of being a teenager and being so off-the-charts gifted.”
Those gifts took Hilk to a career as a researcher at a Chicago tech company here in the loop – until, the company said, he left in 2015.
What happened on the seventh floor at 240 E. Illinois St. that ended Hilk’s life – and what brought the explosives into the picture – remained key questions late Thursday in an ongoing investigation that now includes the FBI.