Man found dead in car trunk after apparent Will County home invasion identified as Francisco Aranda

WILL COUNTY, Ill. (WLS) -- Francisco Aranda has been identified as the 63-year-old man was found dead in the trunk of a car in unincorporated Crete Township Monday, according to the Will County Coroner's Office.

A 59-year-old woman who was injured told police the incident started as a home invasion.

The sheriff's office said officers were sent to a home in the 26000-block of South Klemme Road for a welfare check after the victims' relatives called to say the pair hadn't shown up for work and were not answering their phones.

A family member let officers into the home and once they searched the garage they found a 59-year-old woman in a 2003 Chevy Impala. Police said the woman told officers her husband was inside the trunk.

Officers found Aranda's body in the trunk. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The woman told officers two masked men entered her home the previous night to rob them. The Will County Sheriff said both Aranda and his wife were placed in the trunk by the robbers. Aranda was able to kick out the backseat from the trunk and his wife was able to crawl to the front. She heard him breathing erratically, but she soon lost consciousness, the sheriff said. Police believe Aranda's actions likely saved her life.

When the couple was found Monday morning, likely about 12 hours after their ordeal began, the Impala's windows were completely fogged over.

The sheriff's office said the woman suffered significant bruising but is in stable condition.

In Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood, a crowd gathered outside Aranda's closed corner grocery store, standing there in disbelief. Pancho, as they called him, was a legend on the block.

"Every time we came in the store it was always happy smiles with him. He was never rude to anyone, joking around with all his customers," said Jasmine Rodriguez, customer and friend.

"I've been working here for over 30 years and he's been over there across the street," said Elizabeth Valencia, friend.

Aranda was known for his generosity.

"If we didn't have any money to pay everything we bought he would say 'Oh, you can pay us later,'" Rodriguez said.

"He was my first boss," said Berto Aguayo, friend. "He gave me my first job when I was still struggling and my mom wanted to get me out of the street."

"This is bad, this doesn't happen around here," said Robert Gifford, neighbor.

Gifford lives next door to the couple's home and said he met Aranda last year when he first bought the home.

"I saw the guy last year when they bought the home, that's the only time," said Gifford.

Gifford said all he knew was Aranda said he owned a shop in Chicago and was planning to retire at the unincorporated Crete home.

"I think it's really sad when somebody who has done so much, somebody who was filled with so much goodness gets their life taken away so violently," Aguayo said.

"This isn't good. We're out here, we got no protection or anything. You know what I mean?" said Gifford. "We're out in the county and that's why we live out here."

The sheriff's office said Aranda's autopsy results were inconclusive pending toxicology reports. Police said he was not shot or stabbed.

The investigation is ongoing. The Will County Sheriff's Office said they are pursuing a number of leads.
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