MIT graduate found dead in Chicago with materials for three different explosive devices


A ‘genius’ MIT graduate who was described as ‘off the charts gifted’ by his high school counselor was found dead in his Chicago apartment surrounded by explosives on Tuesday.  

A follow-up investigation found Theodore Hilk’s apartment contained bomb-making equipment for three different explosive devices. 

Police were unable to confirm earlier reports that the 30-year-old had two active pipe bombs stored in his refrigerator in the 7th floor Streeterville apartment.

But the discovery of explosive materials, which police initially thought was a meth lab, sparked an evacuation of two floors of the apartment block. 

Chicago police bomb squad, SWAT team, and the FBI attended the scene.  

Theodore Hilk, 30, was found  dead surrounded by bomb-making equipment for three different explosive devices

A follow-up investigation found Theodore Hilk's apartment contained bomb-making equipment for three different explosive devices

A follow-up investigation found Theodore Hilk’s apartment contained bomb-making equipment for three different explosive devices

Police were unable to confirm earlier reports that the 30-year-old had two active pipe bombs stored in his refrigerator in the 7th floor Streeterville apartment

Police were unable to confirm earlier reports that the 30-year-old had two active pipe bombs stored in his refrigerator in the 7th floor Streeterville apartment

The Chicago Fire Department later uncovered lead Azide, a substance most often used commercially as a detonator for large explosives, in Hilk’s flat.  

The explosive material was transported from Hilk’s flat on 240 east Illinois Street in a white blast-proof container. 

Chicago police said the materials had all been disposed of safely by the Special Functions Division. 

Police said the site was cleared by 11pm on Wednesday. 

A neighbour, who asked to remain anonymous, told CBS Chicago they had closed their vents in fear dangerous chemicals were loose in the air. 

She said: ‘We didn’t know if there was something in the vents. So we turned off the vents in our house. We opened up the windows,’

The woman, who has lived in the building for seven years, added: ‘There was a lot of police communication through the building telling us they’re conducting tests and everybody should stay put.

‘The concern was: what was going in that apartment really?’

She said residents had googled Hilk in effort to find out why he had stored explosive chemicals his flat.

She explained: ‘Somebody was googling them, and he seems like he had a pretty educated background. So we were more worried, what was he doing, what was he thinking?’ 

How Hilk got hold of the cache of explosives and what he intended to use them for remains unclear.    

Hilk’s body was discovered during a routine well-being check. 

He was declared dead at 4am on Wednesday but is believed to have died days earlier and police said the body had already started decomposing when it was discovered.

Any autopsy to determine the cause of death is underway with results from the Medical Examiner expected in the coming days. 

The Chicago Fire Department later uncovered lead Azide, a substance most often used commercially as a detonator for large explosives, in Hilk's flat

The Chicago Fire Department later uncovered lead Azide, a substance most often used commercially as a detonator for large explosives, in Hilk’s flat

The explosive material was transported from Hilk's flat on 240 east Illinois Street in a white blast-proof container

The explosive material was transported from Hilk’s flat on 240 east Illinois Street in a white blast-proof container

Chicago police said the materials had all been disposed of safely by the Special Functions Division

Chicago police said the materials had all been disposed of safely by the Special Functions Division

How Hilk got hold of the cache of explosives and what he intended to use them for remains unclear

How Hilk got hold of the cache of explosives and what he intended to use them for remains unclear

Observers speculated Hilk had purchased the explosive materials on the black market

Observers speculated Hilk had purchased the explosive materials on the black market

An investigation into the mysterious death is ongoing. 

The 30-year-old graduated from MIT, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering, and math, in 2013.

He went on to work as a day trader at Headlands Technologies in Chicago in 2015. 

Hilk is originally from Kansas and went to school on the outskirts of Kansas City.  

He was a very intelligent individual and received a perfect score on his ACT in 2007. 

High school counselor Carolyn Devane said: ‘I have only known a handful of those who have scored a 36.

‘I think his greatest struggle at times might have been the social side of being a teenager and being so off the charts gifted.’

Hilk was declared dead at 4am on Wednesday but is believed to have died days earlier and police said the body had already started decomposing when it was discovered

Hilk was declared dead at 4am on Wednesday but is believed to have died days earlier and police said the body had already started decomposing when it was discovered

The discovery of explosive materials, which police initially thought was a meth lab, sparked an evacuation of two floors of the Streeterville apartment block

The discovery of explosive materials, which police initially thought was a meth lab, sparked an evacuation of two floors of the Streeterville apartment block

Neighbours told CBS Chicago they had closed their vents in fear dangerous chemicals were loose in the air

Neighbours told CBS Chicago they had closed their vents in fear dangerous chemicals were loose in the air

Hilk's flat was on 240 east Illinois Street, Streeterville, Chicago, on the 7th floor of an apartment block

 Hilk’s flat was on 240 east Illinois Street, Streeterville, Chicago, on the 7th floor of an apartment block

How Hilk got hold of the cache of explosives and what he intended to use them for remains unclear

How Hilk got hold of the cache of explosives and what he intended to use them for remains unclear

An investigation into how Hilk died is underway

An investigation into how Hilk died is underway 



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