Burwell's killed by gunshots

Nick Vlahos

A poisonous gas was detected in the bodies of a Eureka man and his niece, who were found dead last month inside his burning house.

But gunshot wounds killed Troy and Cheyenne Burwell, Woodford County Coroner Tim Ruestman said Monday. What isn't certain yet, among other things, is a motive.

The Burwells were found dead Oct. 5 at 912 Lake Road after firefighters responded to a call.

According to toxicology reports Ruestman received Friday, 13-year-old Cheyenne Burwell sustained extremely elevated levels of carbon monoxide. The gas can be a byproduct of a house fire.

"Hers was at a range that would be considered lethal, but other tests that were performed showed her heart was still beating at the time she sustained the gunshot wound," Ruestman said.

Cheyenne Burwell died of a head wound from a gunshot fired at close range, according to Ruestman.

Troy Burwell, 39, also sustained carbon monoxide exposure, but died from a contact range gunshot wound, as reported previously, Ruestman said. Such a wound results when a gun barrel touches skin.

"We believe this incident involves only these two people," Ruestman said.

Ruestman, however, said he isn't prepared to call the deaths a murder-suicide. The coroner's office, the Eureka Police Department and the Illinois State Police need to complete additional tests and investigations that would help establish a motive and determine who set the fire, Ruestman said.

No timetable has been set.

Cheyenne Burwell had been living with her uncle and attending Eureka Middle School, where she was an eighth-grade student. Troy Burwell was a painter at a Goodfield farm implement factory.