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Article updated: 12/18/2011 10:13 PM

Friend of 61-year-old Elgin man charged in his murder

By Tara García Mathewson Paul Biasco

A 28-year-old woman has been charged with first-degree murder in the killing of a 61-year-old Elgin man whose body was found inside a burning apartment Saturday morning, according to police.

Jessica Leach, of the 0-99 block of Poplar Creek in Elgin, is due in bond court Monday morning, while a second suspect in the murder of James S. Granger remains in police custody, said Elgin Police spokeswoman Sue Olafson.

Police released few details of the homicide investigation late Sunday because charges against the man who is in custody will not be filed "for the next few days."

Authorities said Leach was a friend of the victim and was inside the apartment before Granger was murdered. Leach signaled to the second suspect to come into the apartment Saturday as part of an attempt to rob the man, according to police.

Firefighters responded to a call of smoke coming from a unit in Rivers Landing Apartments, 1 Times Square, at about 4:45 a.m. Saturday and found the badly burned body of Granger once the blaze had been extinguished, authorities said.

The fire investigation became a homicide investigation at that point, and police were called to the scene, according to authorities.

"An investigation revealed that the victim met with foul play prior to the fire," Olafson said in a news release.

Police have not released additional details and declined to say what led them to believe foul play was involved.

Residents came and went from the four-building apartment complex near the Grand Victoria Casino Sunday as wooden planks covered the windows of Granger's apartment in Building 1, and police tape cordoned off the back door area.

Neighbors who knew Granger declined to comment based on instructions from the apartment complex management. A neighbor who alerted police to the fire could not be reached for comment.

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