Man beaten to death at Northwest Side home

September 14, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Michael Justo, 56, was found beaten to death Tuesday night at approximately 11:35 p.m. at his home in the 5300-block of N. Northwest Highway.

Police continued to process the scene Wednesday, but they were not releasing many details. Crime scene technicians carried large pieces of evidence away.

Authorities do say they are treating the case as a homicide. According to police, Justo suffered blunt-force trauma to the head after a burglary occurred at his home. The home reportedly was ransacked.

Police would not say who found the victim or why he was not reported missing. They also would not say what kinds of items were taken from the home.

An SUV -- a Ford Explorer -- was stolen from the home and found three blocks away in a strip mall parking lot.

Neighbors say the victim was a nice man who loved his dogs and would always say hello to people in the neighborhood.

"There wasn't anything wrong about the guy, so why would that happen, to him. It's gets you a little freaked out, makes you want to lock the doors at night," said Mike Scriven, neighbor.

"Mike, I see all the time in the neighborhood, walking with his three Shiatsu dogs, and everyone talked to him," said Carol Scriven, neighbor. "He was a very good neighbor."

Justo's dogs were taken into the care of the stepson, who did not want to speak to reporters as he left the home.

"It's scary being on the Northwest Side seeing all this happen. I thought it was a safe neighborhood," Raymond Webster said.

This is the first homicide in the Gladstone Park since 2008.

Nearby business owner Steve Lebda said he spoke to Justo just yesterday.

"He stopped by, was patting the dogs, wanted to know how business was," Lebda said. "Yeah, I'm shocked."

A few neighbors said they never saw any of Justo's family, but they would see him walking his three small dogs every day. They said Justo was well liked.

"We've been here a long time; he's been there a long time. Everybody talks to him. You see him talking to neighbors all the time. It's just strange, just wondering what happened," said Lebda.

Justo is listed as a truck driver for the City of Chicago's Dept. of Aviation. His Gladstone Park neighborhood is known for having a high number of resident city and county workers.

Authorities say Justo does have a 52-year-old wife, Peggy, but they would not release any details about her, except to say she was not at the crime scene Wednesday. Police also would not say which family members had talked to them.

No one is in custody, but authorities say there is no immediate threat to the neighborhood.

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