|Former political fundraiser Christopher Kelly apparently tried to commit suicide twice last week -- on Tuesday and on Friday.
Country Club Hills Police Chief Regina Evans said the 51-year-old Kelly, a fundraiser for and confidante of ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, apparently took over-the-counter medication hours after entering a guilty plea on federal mail fraud charges. Evans said that both times, Kelly reached out to friends to say he needed help.
On Tuesday, the friends drove him to the parking lot of Oak Forest Hospital, but Evans said he never entered the emergency room, stopping in the parking lot. "He convinced his friends that he was OK, and just wanted to go home," Evans said. "They decided Mr. Kelly did not need help at that time. They left the hospital and agreed that Mr. Kelly would seek help with his feelings of depression."
Evans said the friends contacted experts the next day but it is unclear what use, if any, Kelly made of them.
Although police have found nothing to indicate that Kelly's case is anything but a suicide, Evans stated flatly that the police investigation stopped at the point Kelly arrived at Oak Forest Hospital Friday night, nearly 12 hours before his death.
Evans said that police found a sleeping bag, clothing and photos of his children, along with an unopened box of rat poison and garbage, in a construction trailer in space rented by Kelly's contracting firm, BCI Commercial Roofing.
Kelly friend Michael Allen claimed that he took other items from the trailer after Kelly's death, and gave police empty bottles of two over-the-counter pain relievers -- Aleve (naproxen sodium) and Tylenol (acetaminophen). Evans said no over-the-counter or prescription drug bottles were found in the trailer or in Kelly's Cadillac Escalade SUV, although the floor of the SUV was "strewn" with various pills. She said that another friend, who did not wish to be named, gave police a "rambling" note.
Evans did not characterize the note as a suicide note, said it was not addressed to anyone in particular, and said police have yet to confirm that Kelly wrote it. She would disclose nothing about it contents, saying only that it did not mention federal prosecutors.
Evans said the trailer "did not" appear to be lived in, and that Kelly's girlfriend said he had stayed with her until Friday.
Surveillance video and a receipt recovered from the trailer indicate that Kelly shopped at the Country Club Hills Wal-Mart at 2:45 p.m. Friday; police refused to divulge what Kelly purchased. On Friday night, Evans said, Kelly sent a text message to his girlfriend again asking for help. Evans said the girlfriend found him in his pill-strewn SUV, parked outside a hardware store, and drove him from there to Oak Forest Hospital, arriving about 11:15 p.m.
Kelly was transferred by ambulance to Stroger Hospital in Chicago at 5:15 a.m. Saturday, and was pronounced dead there at 10:47 a.m. Evans said that following Kelly's death, Allen picked up the Escalade from the Oak Forest Hospital parking lot.
The SUV is now in police custody, and its contents are among the pieces of evidence being examined by the Illinois State Police Crime Lab.
Police are still processing information from Kelly's phone and his girlfriend's. Evans expected toxicology reports to take between three and four weeks, despite a request to expedite the results.
Kelly said in court Sept. 8 that he had been under intense pressure from prosecutors to testify against former Blagojevich, but refused to do so until the end. Kelly was estranged from his wife, and had battled alcohol abuse and gambling problems for years.
Last week's guilty plea was his second. He had been scheduled to begin serving three years in prison Friday on the first plea, on separate tax fraud charges unrelated to political corruption.
(Illinois Radio Network)