Former Joliet Catholic teacher accused of grooming, subject of warrant, was found at hospital, expected to turn himself in, police say

Paige Fry, Chicago Tribune
·2 min read

As police were searching for a former teacher at a Joliet diocesan school who was charged with traveling to meet a child and grooming, the 44-year-old man was admitted to a hospital, and his attorney told police that he will turn himself in after his release from the hospital, the Joliet Police Department said Saturday.

A warrant was issued by a Will County judge Thursday for the arrest of Jeremy Hylka one day after the Joliet Police Department discovered a video about 6:30 a.m. on Snapchat depicting possible “inappropriate contact” between an adult and a minor, Joliet police Lt. Joe Egizio said during a news conference Friday.

It was not immediately clear why Hylka was admitted to a hospital, and police said the time and date of his release from the hospital are unknown.

The video that was brought to police’s attention was made by a citizen, acting independently, who posed as a 15-year-old and uploaded alleged correspondence between the two on social media, police said.

Detectives interviewed the user who uploaded the video, vetted all messages and content from the account, and identified the suspect as Hylka.

The Snapchat user apparently runs an independent group called “Save Our Siblings” that holds no law enforcement authority, Egizio said.

Joliet police Detective Shawn Filipiak added that the man behind the account is 19 years old and posed as a 15-year-old while corresponding with Hylka.

“I’ve never met this person in my life,” Filipiak said about the Snapchat user.

“This group, SOS, and cooperating witness that came forward … came to us, because he knows that there are a bunch of people out there that are doing this, and he just felt it to be his duty to go out on different sites, chat sites, and engage in conversation because it really bothered him.”

On Thursday, Hylka’s bail was then set at $100,000, Egizio said at that time.

“We are working on establishing his whereabouts,” Egizio said then. “I’m confident he will be in our custody in the near future.”

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet released a statement Thursday that Hylka was fired from his jobs at St. Joseph Catholic School in Lockport and at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church and the Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus, both in Joliet. He is also prohibited from working or volunteering for any diocesan school or parish.

“I encourage anybody that was a victim ever, please come forward,” Filipiak said. “We want to hear your story. Your story should be told.”

pfry@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @paigexfry