'Reign of terror': Motive remains a mystery in 8 Joliet, Illinois, killings; suspect dead after manhunt in Texas

Romeo Nance died from a self-inflicted gunshot in Texas.

January 23, 2024, 7:06 PM

Eight people were killed and nine shot in what Joliet, Illinois, authorities are referring to as 23-year-old deceased suspect Romeo Nance's "reign of terror."

On Tuesday, Joliet police and Will County Sheriff's officials held a press conference to share the latest update on the dayslong homicide investigation that ended with Nance dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound outside of a gas station in Natalia, Texas, after a police standoff.

Authorities shared that Nance's four separate alleged shootings in Joliet all took place on Sunday and that he was related to "most" of the seven victims killed at two homes in Joliet before shooting two male victims -- one fatally -- at nearby locations.

A motive for the slew of killings remains a mystery. "We may never know the truth or motives," Dan Jungles, the chief deputy of criminal investigations at the Will County Sheriff's Office, told reporters.

"We can't get inside his head," Joliet Police Chief Bill Evans similarly noted. "We just don't have any clue as to why he did what he did."

Will County Coroner's Office released names of the adult victims on Tuesday, 20-year-old Alexandria Nance, 38-year-old Christine Esters, 47-year-old Tamaeka Nance, 35-year-old William Esters II and 31-year-old Joshua Nance. The victims also included a 14-year-old girl and a 16-year-old girl.

Romeo Nance died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said Monday night after launching a search for the suspect. Police identified Romeo Nance after they discovered the bodies of five victims in one home and another two in a nearby residence Monday morning.

Late Monday night, the police said Romeo Nance had been located by U.S. Marshals near Natalia, Texas, and it was "believed that [Romeo] Nance took his own life with a handgun following a confrontation with Texas law enforcement officials."

Officers had been watching one of the homes as part of an investigation into two shootings that took place Sunday, including the fatal shooting in Joliet Township, according to Jungles.

Jungles said officers knocked on the house door they were watching before noon Monday but went to a nearby house when they got no response.

"They knew that the house across the street was related to the individuals that resided at that house," he said. "They walked over there, and that's when they discovered the blood and made entry into the house to look for injured individuals."

PHOTO: Joliet Police Detectives are currently seeking the whereabouts of Romeo Nance, believed to be driving a red Toyota Camry Q730412.
Joliet Police Detectives are currently seeking the whereabouts of Romeo Nance, believed to be driving a red Toyota Camry Q730412.
Joliet Police Department

The seven victims found in the two homes were related, Evans told reporters on Monday.

"I've been a policeman 29 years. This is probably the worst crime scene I've ever been associated with," Evans said.

Jungles said the victims in the homes were "known to [Romeo] Nance." Romeo Nance's last known address was on the block where the crimes were discovered, authorities said Monday night.

Romeo Nance was believed to be driving a red Toyota Camry, police said earlier. The same red Toyota Camry was also identified in an investigation into two shootings that took place in Joliet on Sunday.

The sheriff's office said that officers responded to an emergency call at Pheasant Run Apartments in Joliet Township Sunday, where they discovered Toyosi Bakare, 28, had suffered a gunshot wound to the head. Bakare was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to Jungles.

Joliet Police Chief Bill Evans (PHOTO: WLS)
Joliet Police Chief Bill Evans (PHOTO: WLS)
Joliet Police Chief Bill Evans (PHOTO: WLS)

An hour before responding to the Pheasant Run Apartments call, Joliet police officers responded to the 200 block of Davis Street, where they said they discovered a 42-year-old man who had sustained a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to his leg.

"During this investigation, Detectives quickly identified 23-year-old Romeo Nance as a suspect in the homicides on West Acres Road and it was believed that he was also involved in a fatal shooting being investigated by the Will County Sheriff's Office as well as a non-fatal shooting in Joliet," authorities said late Monday night. "Both of these shootings took place on January 21, 2024."

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