An early Sunday blaze at a couple's home at 3355 Gurler Road was intentionally started by a Malta man who killed his wife and later turned his gun on himself, police said Tuesday.
DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott said William M. Kreda, 74, shot and killed his wife in their second-floor bedroom before setting fires to buildings on their property and then turning his .45-caliber handgun on himself.
Malta, a DeKalb County village of nearly 1,200 residents, is about 45 miles north of Ottawa.
Firefighters responded about 1:40 a.m. Sunday to the Kredas’ farm, where they found the barn and the house ablaze. They later found the bodies of Kreda, 74, and his wife, Marjory R. Kreda, 75. The couple purchased the property more than 40 years earlier, according to news accounts.
Autopsies were performed Monday by a pathologist contracted by the DeKalb County Coroner’s office, revealing both Willam and Marjory Kreda died of gunshot wounds to the head, according to the release.
“The question always comes up: Why did this happen?" Scott said. “It’s a question that bothers us a lot, and we're always digging and searching for those answers. Sometimes, they’re impossible to get, to find out what the internal thought processes were with those involved.”
In a news release, police said that after he shot his wife, William Kreda went to the barn and shed about 150 feet north of the house and set both structures on fire. He then returned to the house, setting it on fire in multiple places, and finally returned to the couple's bedroom, where he shot himself to death.
Both of the Kredas were found in their bed, the release said. Scott said two dogs were found in the house shot dead by the same firearm, and that two horses were killed in the barn by the fire. Scott said a cat was found alive and turned over to DeKalb County Animal Control.
Scott said detectives from his office knew shortly after they were called to the scene at 1:54 a.m. that a weapon was involved, as one was found near the deceased, but that investigators searched for clues that might have suggested other causes of death. He said by midday Sunday, investigators determined "it was a strong possibility" the situation was a murder-suicide.
Scott was pointed in saying the incident had no connection to the unsolved murder of Sycamore mother and son Patricia and Robert Wilson, who were found dead in their home in rural Sycamore on Aug. 15, 2016.
William Kreda was a longtime Northern Illinois University employee who planned to retire from the university's Division of Information Technology, school officials said. Kayte Hamel, marketing and communications director for Kishwaukee College, said Marjory Kreda was an adjunct professor at the college in fall of 1989. She lost a race for Malta Township supervisor in 1993 to Pat Siebrasse, a former NIU employee who now lives in Sycamore.
Matt Parks, chief information officer with the NIU Division of Information Technology, said in an email to colleagues that William Kreda had worked more than 40 years at NIU, and the news was deeply saddening, especially because he planned to retire from the university at the end of the month.
“While I didn’t know Bill closely, I did cross paths with him frequently in the hallways at [the NIU Monsanto building], and found him to be an extremely nice person whenever we saw each other,” Parks wrote. “He always had a smile on his face. With over 40 years of service to NIU, I have no doubt Bill developed many friendships within the division of Information Technology and across our campus community, and he will be missed by many.”
Among his contributions to NIU was helping to launch PeopleSoft, a mammoth software package commonly used by higher education institutions that keeps track of all of NIU’s human resources and student data, Parks added.
NIU spokesman Joe King said getting NIU’s antiquated systems converted over to PeopleSoft was a huge project.
Other roles Kreda served at NIU included systems programmer at the university’s computing facilities office and faculty adviser to the NIU Shotokan Karate Club, according to Daily Chronicle archives. His work with the karate club earned him an outstanding faculty adviser award in 1989.
The Kredas also once owned a satellite dish company called DeKalb Satellite Dish, a contractor of digital satellite technology for TCI/Primestar in the Fox Valley area.
According to Karl Froehlich, fire chief with the Malta Fire Protection District, no firefighters were hurt during the weekend fire, which was reported by a motorist on Interstate 88 and took about half an hour to get under control. The DeKalb, Sycamore, Waterman, Shabbona, Kirkland, Lee, Creston, Steward and Rochelle fire departments assisted.
The sheriff's and coroner's office, along with the state fire marshal's office, are continuing to investigate the case. Scott said evidence has been sent to the state crime lab, the typical procedure, and that it could take months for toxicology results to come back.
“We’re digging for answers, but we don’t have them at that point," he said.