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Husband and wife lawyers found dead under 'suspicious circumstances' in Chicago area home

Thomas Johnson, 69, and Leslie Jones, 67, were found in their Oak Park home on Monday night while police were conducting a welfare check.

A husband and his wife, both lawyers, were found dead Monday night in their Chicago area home.

Authorities discovered the bodies of Thomas Johnson, 69, and Leslie Jones, 67, at around 7:30 p.m. while conducting a welfare check at their Oak Park home.

Police said that "preliminary information gathered at the scene indicates suspicious circumstances" and it does not appear that the deaths were self-inflicted.

“On behalf of the Oak Park Police Department, I want to offer our condolences to the family and friends of Ms. Jones and her husband, Mr. Johnson, both of whom are known in the community and beyond,” Police Chief LaDon Reynolds said in a statement.

Image: Authorities say a husband and wife were found dead under "suspicious circumstances" inside a home in Oak Park, Ill., on April 13, 2020.
Authorities say a husband and wife were found dead under "suspicious circumstances" inside a home in Oak Park neighborhood in Chicago on April 13, 2020.NBC Chicago

Reynolds said he does not believe there is a threat to the public but out of an abundance of caution patrol cars have increased in the area.

Johnson and Jones were attorneys at the Johnson, Jones, Snelling, Gilbert & Davis law firm in Chicago, about 9 miles outside of Oak Park.

A bio for Jones on the firm's website states that she specialized in federal litigation, real estate and corporate transactions and zoning.

Johnson, who founded the firm, played a crucial role in establishing affordable housing in Chicago and "in securing justice for coal miners, truck drivers and others in the labor movement," his bio reads.

He also helped reform Chicago's voter registration and worked with many officeholders, including former President Barack Obama, according to the law firm.

Phillip Snelling, an attorney who worked with the couple, said the deaths are a tragedy for the firm and the community.

"Tom and Leslie were an extraordinary couple. Not only were they skilled lawyers who both made significant contributions through their legal work but were also generous and compassionate human beings who served the Oak Park and Chicago communities on many organizations and through their works," he said in a statement to NBC News.

"Their loss is shocking and our hearts are broken for their wonderful sons and the many individuals whose lives they touched and made better," Snelling said.

In addition, Johnson served as a hearing officer for the Chicago Police Board, an independent civilian body that makes decisions regarding police disciplinary cases.

In a statement on the board's website, President Ghian Foreman said they were saddened to learn of the deaths of Johnson and Jones.

“Tom was an outstanding hearing officer and a wonderful man. All of us on the Board admired and respected Tom’s deep knowledge of the law and commitment to fairness," he said.

Johnson had been a hearing officer since 1991 and presided over more than 350 police disciplinary cases, including the four Chicago officers who were found to have made false or misleading statements about the 2014 killing of Laquan McDonald by another officer.

"His work was of the highest caliber. Most importantly, he was in our eyes and by all accounts a thoughtful, kind, and caring man," Foreman said. "We will miss him greatly, and offer our prayers and condolences to Tom and Leslie’s sons and family."