West Chicago police: Firefighters find body in smoldering blanket during training

 
 
Updated 8/15/2018 8:07 AM
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  • Investigators were in a West Chicago prairie far behind a property Tuesday on the 1300 block of Joliet Street just south of Roosevelt Road, where a smoldering body was discovered by firefighters training on the property just before noon.

      Investigators were in a West Chicago prairie far behind a property Tuesday on the 1300 block of Joliet Street just south of Roosevelt Road, where a smoldering body was discovered by firefighters training on the property just before noon. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Investigators were in a prairie far behind a property Tuesday on the 1300 block of Joliet Street just south of Roosevelt Road in West Chicago, where a body was found wrapped in a smoldering blanket.

    Investigators were in a prairie far behind a property Tuesday on the 1300 block of Joliet Street just south of Roosevelt Road in West Chicago, where a body was found wrapped in a smoldering blanket. Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago

  • Police expand the area of their investigation of a body found Tuesday in West Chicago off Joliet Street into the nearby Wycliffe Drive neighborhood.

      Police expand the area of their investigation of a body found Tuesday in West Chicago off Joliet Street into the nearby Wycliffe Drive neighborhood. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • West Chicago community service officer Antonio Garcia stretches police tape around the property on the 1300 block of Joliet Street just south of Roosevelt Road, where a smoldering body was discovered by firefighters.

      West Chicago community service officer Antonio Garcia stretches police tape around the property on the 1300 block of Joliet Street just south of Roosevelt Road, where a smoldering body was discovered by firefighters. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Wycliffe Drive resident Caiti Inc, shown here walking her beagle mix Braxton, said she and her neighbors walk her dogs regularly in the open land on the 1300 block of Joliet Street in West Chicago, including last night, when she saw nothing unusual at the time. "We just came home today and saw all of this," she said.

      Wycliffe Drive resident Caiti Inc, shown here walking her beagle mix Braxton, said she and her neighbors walk her dogs regularly in the open land on the 1300 block of Joliet Street in West Chicago, including last night, when she saw nothing unusual at the time. "We just came home today and saw all of this," she said. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

West Chicago police are investigating the death of a person found Tuesday wrapped in a still-smoldering blanket on a Joliet Street property just south of Roosevelt Road.

The fire department on Tuesday morning was participating in a training exercise on the site on the 1300 block of Joliet Street, containing a mix of boarded-up, single-story houses slated for demolition. At the conclusion of the training, a firefighter discovered the body near their training site by a picnic table, police said. Officers were dispatched to the scene at 11:57 a.m.

"He saw some smoke coming from there, and he went over there and discovered the body," Police Chief Michael Uplegger said.

By Tuesday night, investigators had not identified the body and were not releasing details about the scene. A camping tent also was found nearby.

Uplegger said the death appears to be an isolated incident and that there is no threat to the community.

Sources initially indicated the body found was that of a child, but Tuesday evening officer Michael Rosenwinkel said it was an adult body.

Investigators were in a West Chicago prairie far behind a property Tuesday on the 1300 block of Joliet Street just south of Roosevelt Road, where a smoldering body was discovered by firefighters training on the property just before noon.
  Investigators were in a West Chicago prairie far behind a property Tuesday on the 1300 block of Joliet Street just south of Roosevelt Road, where a smoldering body was discovered by firefighters training on the property just before noon. - Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

"We believe it's a male. We're unable to identify the body right now," Uplegger said. "There will be an autopsy tomorrow morning, at which time we should be able to identify the body."

Members of the DuPage County Major Crimes Task Force and DuPage County state's attorney's office are assisting with the investigation. Authorities did not offer any explanation on why the blanket around the body was smoldering.

More than a half-dozen investigators were seen looking through the prairie behind the boarded-up homes late Tuesday afternoon, and a tent and recording equipment on tripods were set up far in the back near a tree line. Blue tarp blocked the view under the tent.

Investigators were in a West Chicago prairie far behind a property Tuesday on the 1300 block of Joliet Street just south of Roosevelt Road, where a smoldering body was discovered by firefighters training on the property just before noon.
  Investigators were in a West Chicago prairie far behind a property Tuesday on the 1300 block of Joliet Street just south of Roosevelt Road, where a smoldering body was discovered by firefighters training on the property just before noon. - Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

Yellow police tape surrounds the property along Wycliffe Drive and around to Joliet Street. It's a large, prairie-filled parcel with just the few buildings and a long driveway surrounded by trees. Neighborhoods full of homes sit to the west along Joliet Street and to the north on Wycliffe Drive, which forms a loop off Joliet.

The houses were boarded up about two weeks ago, and trees were cleared months ago as part of a redevelopment plan for the site, neighbor Teri Wagner said.

Later in the evening, police taped off another property east within the Wycliffe Drive loop.

Wycliffe Drive resident Caiti Inc said she and her neighbors walk her dogs regularly in the open land, including last night, when she saw nothing unusual at the time.

"We just came home today and saw all of this," she said.

West Chicago police are investigating the death of a person found Tuesday wrapped in a smoldering blanket on land behind these homes slated for demolition on Joliet Street just south of Roosevelt Road.
  West Chicago police are investigating the death of a person found Tuesday wrapped in a smoldering blanket on land behind these homes slated for demolition on Joliet Street just south of Roosevelt Road. - Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

West Chicago firefighters referred all questions to the police department.

Until Tuesday night, drivers were prevented from turning south onto to Joliet Street from Roosevelt Road, snarling traffic on Roosevelt. Joliet Street south of Wycliffe Drive also was sealed off from foot traffic.

• Daily Herald staff photographer Patrick Kunzer and staff writer Doug T. Graham contributed to this report.

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