Joliet, Illinois: Individuals working under the moniker "Save Our Siblings" conducted their own online sting operation in order to locate and expose online child sex predators. In a video uploaded to their YouTube channel on April 29, they released the footage that they had collected after 44-year-old Jeremy M. Hylka had allegedly shown up to a McDonalds to meet what he believed was a 15-year-old boy.
The video was initially posted to Snapchat where officers became aware of the footage.
The Joliet Police Department issued a statement on the 29th indicating that "After further investigation by Joliet Police Detectives, the Will County State's Attorney Office has reviewed charges and a Will County Judge has issued an arrest warrant for Jeremy M. Hylka in the amount of $100,000 for the charges of Traveling to Meet a Child and Grooming. Thank you for the public's assistance."
In a news conference on Friday, April 30 officers expressed concern that "There could possibly be" more victims out there according to Detective Sean Filipiak. "That's why as the Joliet Police Department, we take these allegations very seriously. I encourage people to come forward. We want to hear your story."
During that press conference, Filipiak confirmed that they had been previously made aware of possible inappropriate conversations online involving Hylka. "There was info received prior, in June, in reference to him possibly having inappropriate contact [with a child]." Despite the report, an attempt to vet the claim resulted in the allegation being ruled as a "third party unsubstantiated claim" as no victim could be identified.
Anyone with information is urged to call (815) 724-3100.
At the time of the press conference, Hylka was listed as a patient at an area hospital. The reason for his admittance to the hospital was not disclosed and his attorney stated that his client intended to turn himself in to law enforcement once he was discharged from the hospital.
The founder of Save Our Siblings, identified only as Shane, a 19-year-old, spoke with WGN about the group saying, "I got inspiration from Chis Hansen. I love Chris Hansen and I knew I could do it so I tried it."
Posing as a 15-year-old boy on Grindr, it took less than 24 hours organize a meeting at a local McDonalds. Once Hylka entered the patio area and sat down to speak with Shane, another member came into the area with a camera running. That was when Hylka ran.
After the allegations surfaced in June 2020, the Joliet Catholic Academy, where he had spent 20 years as a teacher, put him on leave. Hylka then resigned from that position.
At the time of this arrest however, Hylka has been tied to Saint Joseph Catholic School in Lockport where he was a teacher, and both the Cathedral of Saint Raymond Nonnatus and Saint Paul the Apostle Catholic Church of Joliet where he had been working in an undisclosed position.
The diocese issued a statement indicating that once they became aware of an arrest warrant against Hylka, he was terminated. "He is also prohibited from working or volunteering for any diocesan school or parish."
The statement, as reported by WJOL also indicated that there had been an additional investigation into Hylka in January 2021 where he was placed on leave for two weeks out of "an abundance of caution."
A jail record search for Will County does not list Hylka as an inmate at this time.