Man found dead with pipe bombs in his Chicago condo was MIT graduate, former day trader

A well-being check Tuesday in Streeterville turned into a death investigation, after 30-year-old Theodore Hilk was found dead.

In addition, what was found inside Hilk's condominium on Wednesday sparked fear and questions.

"It's not something that anybody should have in their apartment," said UIC Distinguished Professor Luke Hanley.


Initially, investigators thought they stumbled upon a meth lab. However, sources say it turned out to be bomb-making materials for three different types of bombs. Two active pipe bombs were apparently stored in his refrigerator.

The Chicago Fire Department says they uncovered Azide, which is a substance used as a detonator.

"They may be used commercially, for example in certain types of explosives, like construction or something," Hanley said. "But the main legitimate use is to set off a larger explosive."

Two floors of the building were evacuated, and professor of chemistry Scott Denmark says that was necessary.

"The lead Azide itself, of course, if there was sufficient quantities could cause a significant bang and explosion and take out rooms and clear furniture and people easily," Denmark said.

Hilk last worked in Chicago in 2015 at Headlands Technologies as a day trader. He is from Kansas and received a perfect ACT score in 2007. MIT says he graduated in 2013, earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering and in mathematics.

What is not known -- as of now -- is how he got his hands on the bomb making materials and why.

"It would have to be black market," Denmark said.