By Chris Tye

CHICAGO (CBS) — There’s more information about what was happening inside a downtown high rise where a man, described as a genius, was found dead.

Police now say it appears Ted Hilk may have been operating a clandestine drug lab.

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CBS 2’s Chris Tye reported Tuesday from the Streeterville building where the case that brought the FBI and the bomb squad. That case has now taken some new turns.

Hilk’s parents said he was struggling with life during the pandemic. New documents obtained by CBS 2 revealed warning signs dated back many months.

The first warning signs inside Hilk’s apartment were flagged last October.

Window washers spotted multiple propane tanks inside his seventh floor unit. They notified management and Hilk removed them.

In the weeks that followed, police said, building managers asked his neighbors for access to their balconies to do a well-being check on Hilk.

The Kansas native who scored a perfect 36 on his ACT before attending MIT kept to himself, according to his neighbors.

A police report obtained by CBS 2 reveals there were several exceptions.

One neighbor heard: “loud banging typically in the middle of the night” and “heard arguing on multiple occasions seemingly between a male and a female.”

Another told investigators that “when he did see Hilk, he would be wearing an industrial type face mask and what appeared to be heavy rubber gloves, but that he “did not think much of this at the time because of the current pandemic.”

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On March 23, after his parents hadn’t heard from him in a month, emergency crews entered his apartment at the family’s request.

The 30-year-old was found dead in his bedroom amid pills and pill bottles in advanced decomposition.

Also inside were “several pressure cookers, chemicals, lab equipment, metal drums…pill bottles…chemical bottles…”

Police said it was “possibly part of a clandestine lab used for producing illegal narcotics.”

Hilk’s parents told authorities he was “suffering anxiety lately due to COVID-19 pandemic.”


The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office has declared Hilk’s manner of death an accident.

The cause of death: an overdose of lidocaine. That’s most commonly used as a numbing medication.

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The Medical Examiner said there were no signs of struggle or trauma.