Explosives discovered in Streeterville apartment — nearly 17 hours after police found man dead inside

Update 11:15 AM — After publication of this story, Chicago police released a statement to identify one substance recovered from the apartment as lead azide, a potentially volatile substance that is used in detonators, among other things.

Chicago police removed explosive materials from a Streeterville apartment late Wednesday, nearly 24 hours after the man who lives there was found dead in his bedroom, according to multiple sources.

Police and fire department personnel found chemicals and laboratory equipment in the kitchen shortly after entering the unit around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, the sources said. But detectives who returned to the scene on Wednesday afternoon also found explosive materials — including two pipe bombs, according to a source — that prompted a large response by police, fire, and FBI personnel.

A Chicago police bomb disposal unit leaves the scene of Wednesday’s incident. | CPD

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the deceased man as 30-year-old Theodore Hilk. An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday.

Hilk’s father reportedly went to his son’s 7th-floor apartment at 240 East Illinois on Tuesday night because he had not heard from him and was concerned about his well-being. But the father, who had a key to the unit, was unable to open the door because it seemed to be blocked from the inside, a source said. He called police.

Officers arrived around 11 p.m. and entered the apartment, where they found Hilk dead on the bedroom floor with a large number of prescription pill bottles nearby, according to an official report.

The officers also found what they believed to be a clandestine laboratory, including scientific equipment, tools, industrial cleaning supplies, chemicals, and lab glassware in the kitchen, according to a CPD report.

Fire department personnel responded and cleared the scene by 2 a.m.

Detectives assigned to investigate Hilk’s death returned to his apartment around 4 p.m. Wednesday and reportedly found explosive materials, including two pipe bombs, in the refrigerator. Officially, CPD said only that the detectives found “hazardous materials.”

The detectives summoned the FBI along with CPD’s SWAT team and bomb squad to the scene.

Around 10:30 p.m., CPD’s bomb disposal truck transported materials from the apartment building to a parking lot near Soldier Field where they neutralized the items, a source said.

Police continue to investigate Bilk’s death and the contents of his apartment.

In 2007, Hilk made local news in Shawnee, Kansas, when he earned a perfect score of 36 on his ACT. He later went on to study at MIT, according to online reports.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com