No answers yet in Highland Park fire
Updated: October 9, 2012 11:21PM
HIGHLAND PARK — Police still are awaiting results of DNA tests to identify a man burned beyond recognition in a house fire on Sept. 25 and evidence from the Highland Park home to determine whether an accelerant was used to ignite the blaze.
“We’re at a point now we need some results back,” Highland Park Deputy Chief George Pfutzenreuter said Monday afternoon. “Investigators are following up with the leads they have.”
Samples from the home were sent to the Northern Illinois Crime Lab for analysis and could take weeks to process, he said.
Pfutzenreuter would not say whether the fire, which was so hot it started burning a house just to the south and ignited the grass, is being investigated as a homicide.
“I’m not going to go there. It’s an ongoing investigation,” he said.
Lake County Coroner Artis Yancey said Monday that DNA samples of the victim were sent by the Major Crimes Task Force to the Northern Illinois Crime Lab, which takes longer to process than the private DNA lab he typically uses.
In initial reports, Yancey said the body of the male did not have gunshot wounds or anything else that would indicate foul play.
Police and fire investigators and the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s office are investigating the blaze. Pioneer Press has filed a Freedom Of Information Act request for a copy of the report from the ISFM’s arson division.
Neighbors of the gutted house at 1788 Midland Ave. said the man who died in the fire likely was the owner of Trattoria Giacomo Restaurant in Highwood. Giacomo Ruggirello has owned the Italian restaurant in a strip mall across from Fort Sheridan since 1998.
The house, at the corner of Sherwood and Midland, remains cordoned off with temporary fencing, Pfutzenreuter said. The middle section of the roof collapsed into the center of the house and many of the walls were burned away.
Highland Park Fire Department crews responded to the fire call at 12:42 a.m. and found the home engulfed in flames.