Joliet house explosion linked to case of missing woman Anne Gay, called arson

July 15, 2013 (JOLIET, Ill.)

According to neighbors, the home on 200 Southeast Circle went up in flames after the explosion Sunday night. Neighbors managed to get the homeowner, James Borg, 45, out of the burning home and across the street, but he was severely injured.

The fire department got the call about the incident at approximately 9:50 p.m. Officials say it took about an hour to put the flames out.

The explosion leveled the two-story home, and smoke was still rising from the rubble Monday morning.

The Will County Sheriff's Office is calling it arson. Authorities say they believe Borg, who was the only person inside, tampered with the gas line.

"There's obvious signs that a gas line had been take apart at the coupling, and the valve appears to have been left in a wide open position," Will County Sheriff's Office Deputy Chief Ken Kaupas.

Police say Borg is a strong person of interest in the disappearance of 54-year-old waitress Anne Gay, who was his live-in girlfriend. She has been missing since June 10, when she failed to show up to work at Louis' Family Restaurant in Joliet.

Her co-workers say she would never just vanish.

"Anne would not just not let us know where she's at or not contact her daughter or see her grandkids or talk to her friends. I mean, it's just not Anne," said Valerie Venegas, who also works at the restaurant.

Police say they have answered 13 calls to the house for domestic violence since the beginning of the year.

After Gay disappeared in June, detectives searched the home and said they found evidence of a struggle and confronted Borg.

"He came in with an attorney," Kaupas said. "I think it was probably obvious to him that we had honed the focus of our investigation down to him and that was just last week."

Borg suffered burns over 70 percent of his body in the explosion and fire and was rushed to a local hospital in critical condition.

He was the only person in the home, but the fire did start to spread to a neighboring home where a family of four lives. That family was able to get out unharmed, but their home has some moderate damage.

The state fire marshal was on the scene Monday to continue the investigation.

Copyright © 2024 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.