Murder charges filed against Illinois man accused of killing wife and 3 adult daughters

Police work at the scene of a shooting in Tinley Park on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024. Authorities have identified a woman and her three adult daughters who were found slain inside their suburban Chicago home in what police are calling a domestic-related shooting. (Eileen T. Meslar/Chicago Tribune via AP)

TINLEY PARK, Ill. (AP) — Murder charges were filed Tuesday against a suburban Chicago man accused of killing his wife and three adult daughters in what police have described as a domestic-related shooting.

Maher Kassem, 63, was charged with four counts of first-degree murder and made his first court appearance Tuesday. Police allege he shot four family members after an argument at their home Sunday morning in Tinley Park, which is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) from Chicago.

Killed in the shooting were Majeda Kassem, 53; twins Halema and Zahia Kassem, both 25; and Hanan Kassem, 24. The couple also had two adult sons, including one who also lived at the home.

“Words can’t describe how deeply saddened I am at this horrible tragedy,” Mayor Michael Glotz said in a statement Tuesday. “A mother and her three daughters are gone, murdered in an act of senseless domestic violence."

Funeral services were held Tuesday at a mosque while friends held an online memorial fundraiser to build a mosque in honor of the women. The family is of Palestinian descent and Muslim.

A day earlier, mourners arranged flowers upright in the snow outside the home and left small stuffed animals. Friends and neighbors noted Majeda Kassem's passion for cooking and how all three daughters were intelligent devoted students.

Samah Qasmieh, a Chicago State University professor, taught Halema, who was a third year student.

“I just envision her in her bedroom studying for the exam they have Tuesday, doing nothing wrong at all,” Qasmieh told The Chicago Sun-Times as she stopped by the home Monday to pay respects.

In court, prosecutors said the argument was about money and the couple's 19-year-old son, who was unharmed, was home and witnessed some of the events unfold. He went downstairs when he heard arguing, according to prosecutors.

The daughters were each shot in the head, while their mother was shot more about half a dozen times, according to prosecutors.

A judge ordered Maher Kassem remained detained until his next court hearing set for Feb. 16, calling him a safety risk to his son and the public.

“If he gets his hands on a gun again there’s no telling who he might shoot,” Cook County Judge Linzey Jones said.

Kassem's attorney, Daniel Johnson with the Cook County public defender's office, had requested Kassem be confined to his home and placed on electronic monitoring, according to The Chicago Tribune. Johnson did not immediately return a message Tuesday from The Associated Press seeking additional comment.

Authorities allege Maher Kassem called police and said someone had been shot at the home. Officers arriving at the home found the four deceased women in the home's lower level. Police took Kassem, who was not injured, into custody shortly after and recovered a gun believed to have been used in the shooting.

Prosecutors allege Kassem made comments to police implicating himself in the shooting, including, “I'm going to jail.”

Tinley Park police called it the deadliest shooting in the village of about 55,000 people since 2008 when five women were killed at a Lane Bryant clothing store at a strip mall in the suburb. The murders remained unsolved.