Chicago firefighters responding to a South Side apartment fire early Monday discovered the body of an elderly woman who had been stabbed to death and left to burn among the flames.
At about 2:50 a.m., fire crews responded to a three-story apartment complex in the 5100 block of South Michigan Avenue in the city’s Washington Park neighborhood at the report of a house fire.
Upon arrival, first responders found the body of 89-year-old Josephine Johnson on the building’s first floor, the same floor where the fire appeared to have been sparked. She was transported to University of Chicago Medical Center where she was officially pronounced dead.
Authorities believe the fire, which was quickly extinguished, was set in an attempt to cover up the woman’s death.
Another man was also taken to an area hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation after being found by firefighters on the building's third floor.
As of 6:30 a.m. investigators were still at the crime scene trying to piece together the events leading up to Johnson’s suspicious death.
Johnson, affectionately called Miss Josephine, was a widow who lived alone and spent most of her time at church, according to neighbors and family.
Charles Morris, Johnson's godson, lives on the second floor of the home and helped take care of her. He said when he found Johnson, she had embers burning on her chest.
"I knocked all that stuff off and by that time, a lone fireman showed up," he said.
Residents in the area said they were shocked to learn what happened, adding the block won't be the same without her.
"It hurts so bad to see something like this happen," neighbor Arlene Boyd said.
"I am still in shock," her godson Charles Morris said. "I cannot believe it happened."