Streeterville man found dead in apartment with chemicals and lab equipment died from lidocaine poisoning, medical examiner says

A man who was found dead in a Streeterville apartment along with potentially explosive materials, lab equipment, and chemicals died from accidental lidocaine poisoning, according to the Cook County medical examiner.

Theodore Hilk, 30, was found dead inside his apartment on the 200 block of East Illinois around 11:30 p.m. March 23 during a well-being check.

Hilk’s father reportedly went to his son’s 7th-floor unit because he had not heard from him and was concerned. 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.

A Chicago police bomb disposal unit leaves the 200 block of East Illinois after potentially explosive materials were found inside an apartment. | CPD

According to an official report, 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. Police Supt. David Brown said Hilk’s apartment presented “a little bit of a hoarding type of situation.”

Detectives investigating Hilk’s death returned to the apartment several hours later and found potentially dangerous materials that prompted police and fire officials to cordon off the area as a bomb squad removed potentially explosive materials, police said at the time.

Police sources told media outlets including CWBChicago, the Chicago Tribune, and WGN that investigators found pipe bombs in the apartment, but CPD never said that publicly.

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

The police bomb squad took items from the residence to a secluded area near Soldier Field for detonation late on March 24. Police said lead azide, a potentially volatile substance used in detonators, was among the materials authorities removed from the residence.

More materials were found in the apartment as police continued their investigation the next day, which prompted police to once again close off some access to the area.

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