NEW CHICAGO — The Lake County Sheriff's Department is taking the lead on an investigation into the deaths of a man and woman found Tuesday, Sheriff Oscar Martinez confirmed.
"We are treating this as a homicide investigation," Martinez said.
Both victims were identified Tuesday night by the Lake County coroner's office.
Manuel F. Alfaro, 52, and Heather Rayner, 39, were found dead in their home in the 300 block of Van Buren Avenue. They were both pronounced dead at 1:40 p.m., according to the Lake County coroner's office. They died from multiple gunshot wounds.
On Tuesday, a concerned neighbor went to the small white home in the 300 block of Van Buren Avenue to find the main door open and two victims on the floor, Martinez said.
The neighbor left and immediately called 911, Martinez said.
Martinez declined to disclose much Tuesday night, saying he did not want to risk the integrity of the investigation.
"What we can say is that the public and the neighborhood should not be concerned. This was an isolated incident," he said.
New Chicago police spoke with neighbors in the afternoon as Lake County crime scene investigators walked in and out of the house. Investigators gathered in the yard as a light mist fell and birds chirped.
At about 5 p.m., a woman arrived on scene, frantically asking police if one of the victims was someone she knew. After a short time, she returned to her vehicle, and investigators interviewed her, jotting down notes as they went.
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A Lake County coroner’s van was parked next to the home, which is in a neighborhood along Deep River.
Crime scene tape encircled the yard, and a firetruck blocked traffic on Van Buren Avenue.
Jess Rockwell, a retired steelworker who lives nearby, watched from his daughter’s porch.
Rockwell said he saw the couple who live in the home Monday afternoon. The man was outside, and the woman walked to the mailbox, he said.
“There were quite a few people coming in and out of there,” he said. “I can’t say what or who, but they did have company every day.”
The couple seemed nice enough, he said.
Martinez declined to disclose the victims' relationship. Investigators were interviewing possible witnesses and following up on leads Tuesday night.
"We hope to have some closure soon on this investigation," he said.