A child was found dead in the basement of a home on Chicago’s South Side Tuesday night, after firefighters extinguished flames at the abandoned house.
The Medical Examiner’s Office identified the child as 4-year-old Manuel Aguilar, of the 6400-block of South Wolcott Avenue. The cause and manner of death are still pending. Earlier reports had indicated the child was an infant.
Firefighters responded to a report of a fire in the 1400-block of West Marquette Road in the city’s Englewood neighborhood around 9:30 p.m.
After the fire was put out, crews searched the home and discovered the child’s body. Sources told ABC Eyewitness News the child was found under a pile of trash.
A spokesperson with the Department of Children and Family Services said they are investigating allegations of abuse and neglect. The spokesperson said DCFS had prior contact with the family in 2012 and 2016.
Three people are being questioned as part of the police investigation.
Abdullah Muhailin, who lives across the street, said when a vehicle from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office pulled up, he realized the investigation was about more than just a house fire.
“I saw the white van pull up and go in and come out. I guess the body was so small… I would say I didn’t see the white sheet,” Muhailin said.
Investigators are working to determine how and when the child died. The cause of the fire is also under investigation. An unconfirmed report said gasoline may have been poured on the basement floor and lit on fire.
Muhailin said one of the three being questioned was caught in a nearby gangway.
“They surrounded the house and they apprehended a young man between the two houses,” Muhailin said.
Others who live on the block, including Bobby Bishop, said they are not surprised a body was discovered inside the empty home. Bishop said houses like this have become havens for criminals and he wants the city to take action.
“These abandoned houses, ain’t nobody working on them. Ain’t nobody doing anything to them. Come and tear them down. Do something,” Bishop said.
Bishop said he has called his alderman on several occasions to get all the homes boarded up. ABC7 has reached out to the alderman for comment.
Source: ABC 7