Orland Park police probe Brother Rice teacher’s death
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org January 21, 2014 6:08PM
Alan Filan | Photo courtesy of Brother Rice High School
Updated: February 23, 2014 6:35AM
Orland Park police are investigating what they described as the suspicious death of a resident who taught at Brother Rice High School in Chicago for more than 30 years and was a well-known soccer coach in the Southland.
Al Filan, chairman of the business department and a business teacher at Brother Rice, was found dead about 10:35 a.m. Tuesday in his home in the 9400 block of Georgetown Square, according to authorities.
They said that when Filan did not report for work, police were asked to make a well-being check and officers found Filan lying dead on the kitchen floor.
Police had not released Filan’s identity as of Tuesday night, but the Cook County medical examiner’s office confirmed his death. It said an autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday to determine the cause of death.
Orland Park police and members of the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force were at Filan’s house for several hours Tuesday. His body was removed about 5 p.m. Investigators could be seen from the street Tuesday evening, going from room to room in the home.
Orland Park police Cmdr. John Keating said it was unclear how Filan died, but the circumstances “raised enough concern that we contacted the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force. That’s customary in any type of death investigation that you feel may be suspicious in nature.”
Keating declined to say what caused police to consider the death a possible homicide.
“We don’t want to leave any stone unturned if there’s any possibility (of) foul play,” he said. “That’s why I made the call to request assistance from the task force. They’ve handled homicides in the south suburbs for many years, but at this time I can’t confirm that (it is a homicide). It’s still classified a death investigation at this point until the medical examiner tells us otherwise.”
Police quickly cordoned off the house with yellow police tape Tuesday morning, a neighbor said. Police then began going door to door, seeking information, the woman, who did not want to be identified, said.
“It was like a ‘CSI’ episode come to life,” she said.
Brother Rice issued a statement Tuesday, expressing sorrow at Filan’s death, saying that he had “touched the lives of thousands of students, colleagues and family members” at the school in Chicago’s Mount Greenwood community and “will be fondly missed.” Filan taught at Brother Rice for more than 39 years, according to the school’s website.
Filan also was a former head coach of the girls soccer program at Andrew High School in Tinley Park.
Andrew athletic director Rich Piatchek said Filan most recently coached there in the 2009-10 school year, assisting with both the boys and girls programs. Prior to that, he oversaw the girls program for at least 10 years, and the team won four or five regional titles, Piatchek said.
“He knew more soccer than most people ever knew, and the kids loved him,” Piatchek said. “He was known by everybody in the soccer community as a guru. He was a very bright person. He knew his stuff.”
Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki, a former Brother Rice teacher and guidance counselor for many years while Filan also was on the faculty, said he was sorry to hear of his death.
“He had a rough exterior, but he really had a heart of gold,” Zabrocki said. “He was quite a character. He came across as a rough, gruff guy, but that’s not the way he was.”
A woman who answered a phone number listed for a brother of Filan said no one there had a comment. A phone number listed for a sister has been disconnected. Another brother did not return a phone call seeking comment.