Woman's body found after Harvey house fire; death investigation underway

HARVEY, Ill. (WLS) -- Firefighters in south suburban Harvey found a woman's body while responding to a house fire early Wednesday morning. After police determined she had been shot, they opened a death investigation.

Investigators are trying to figure out who tried to cover up the murder of the longtime resident, by setting fire to the victim's house.

Neighbors called 911 around 4 a.m. to report a fire at a home in the 14800-block of Leavitt Avenue, city spokesman Sean Howard said.

Within 15 minutes of their arrival, firefighters found the 64-year-old woman's body in the rear of the home. Investigators later learned she had sustained a head injury - most likely a gunshot wound - and had died before the fire was set, authorities said.

"No evidence of anyone in the house. We're combing the scene. We know there has to be fingerprints, foot prints. So we're doing that right now. We hope within the next hour or so to send some of those prints up to the lab to see if we have a known criminal," Howard said.

Neighbors said she lived with her nephew. His whereabouts at the time of the fire are unclear.

A person of interest is being questioned and is one of several people want to speak with. Harvey officials said they do not believe that there is a public safety threat to the neighborhood or city. They believe the victim knew her killer.

"The public should not feel any type of threat, mainly because we are firm in our decision that this is more than likely a domestic situation," Howard said.

Howard said the woman lived in Harvey most of her life and was a familiar face in the community. Her neighbors said they often saw her taking walks on her block.

"She kept to herself. She didn't cause any trouble. She was a quiet person," said neighbor Orland Smith.

The fire was extinguished in about an hour, Howard said. No other injuries were reported. The incident remains under investigation.
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