The bodies of the 9-year-old Duncan G. Connolly and his 7-year-old brother Jack D. Connolly, were found in the back seat of their father’s car in a secluded, remote area of Putman County, police said. The body of their father, Michael Connolly, was found about 60 yards away. At a news conference Monday afternoon, the Putnam County sheriff said they were found off Taylor Road, between Hennepin and Henry, Ill.
Authorities said the father apparently killed the boys in a double murder-suicide.
Michael Connolly was said to have been depressed, despondent and “unstable” when he disappeared with the boys following a custodial visit.
The boys’ mother and Michael Connolly’s ex-wife, Amy Leichtenberg, had said Connolly was scheduled to drop the boys off at the LeRoy Police Department on Sunday, March 8, but never showed up. She had an order of protection against Michael Connolly because he had been abusive, she said. Leichtenberg issued a statement that a friend read at the news conference, while choking back tears:
“My heart is broken and there are no words that express my pain. No parent should have to bury their babies. Duncan and Jack, Mommy loves you to the heavens and back. I feel that the judicial system failed me. I pray that the courts listen to the warnings from other parents like me. Thank you everyone for your prayers and support. The family respectfully requests that we have privacy as we cope with this horrible tragedy. Please keep our family and friends in your hearts and prayers.”
Leichtenberg had made numerous attempts to try to stop her ex-husband from having unsupervised visits with their children. And over the past several weeks, she told anyone who would listen that she felt her children’s lives were in jeopardy, and that her ex-husband was suicidal.
McLean County Sheriff Mike Emery was himself nearly overcome with emotion during the news conference Monday, pausing several times while he described the scene where the boys’ bodies were found.
“Today, Amy, her family, friends and many people are overwhelmed by sadness and pain,” Emery said. “That’s such a horrible crime that has been committed.”
After the Amber Alert was issued, a wave of support spread out over the Internet, with a lot of sites for missing children posting the Connolly story. A Facebook group was created for the Connolly boys, where photos of them with their father and his car were posted. On Monday, the Facebook group was filling up with comments of sympathy for the boys’ mother.