An Illinois man named Patrick Jesernik is believed to have fatally shot his girlfriend, Cheryl Schriefer, and then committed suicide over fears that they had contracted the novel coronavirus, reports The Washington Post. The couple lived together in Lockport Township, Illinois.
Family members of the deceased told reporters that Schriefer had begun showing symptoms of the virus, which motivated her to get tested. Sadly, before she received the results of her test, the couple was found dead in separate rooms of their house.
Police called the incident "an apparent murder-suicide." Jesernik was 54 years old at the time of his death, while Schriefer was 59.
Officers on the scene discovered "a revolver with two spent casings and three live bullets" next to Jesernik's body.
According to a statement from the Will County Sheriff's Office, Jesernik's parents became worried after not hearing from their son in several days. They revealed that he had serious concerns about the coronavirus, and they also told police about Schriefer's test and requested a welfare check.
Police ruled Jesernik's death a suicide, while Schriefer's death was ruled a homicide after discovering that she was "shot in the back of the head at close range." Neither Schriefer nor Jesernik tested positive for the coronavirus.
The sheriff's office reported that there had been a surge in domestic calls throughout the pandemic.
"During the current COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of service calls that Deputies have been responding to, involve domestic disputes and crisis intervention calls."The Washington Post article noted that there has been an increase in COVID-19 deaths in the Lockport Township area over the past week. By Monday afternoon, the number had increased to 22 after reporting 13 on Saturday. In total, the county has over 700 confirmed cases.
The pandemic has resulted in an increase in domestic violence calls in multiple countries around the world. Additionally, there has been a rise in calls to suicide hotlines as people grapple with anxiety and depression revolving around the virus and its side effects -- such as unemployment, economic hardship, and isolation. Some states have even limited or prohibited alcohol sales to try and lessen these occurrences.
"We know that when there's added stress in the home it can increase the frequency and severity of abuse. We're trying to prepare survivors for that," said Katie Ray-Jones, the chief executive of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Yesterday, The Inquisitr reported an unfortunate incident where a man spat in his wife's face and told her he hoped she would get the virus. The man in question, Mark Palmer, has been sentenced to 42 weeks in jail.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.