A man is credited with saving his wife’s life after the couple were tied up by home invaders and stuffed into the trunk of a vehicle in south suburban Crete Township.
Francisco Aranda, 63, was found dead Monday in the trunk of his Impala by deputies, the Will County sheriff’s office said. His 59-year-old wife had escaped to the front compartment after Aranda kicked down a folding seat.
“It is believed that Mr. Aranda’s actions most likely saved his wife’s life,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
Deputies found them in an attached garage after conducting a well-being check on their home in the 26000 block of South Klemme Road, the sheriff’s office said. The couple hadn’t picked up their phones in a day. The windows of the car were opaque with condensation.
The wife told deputies that two masked males had entered the home the night before to rob her and Aranda. The robbers bound their hands and placed them inside the truck of a Chevy Impala.
In an attempt to escape, Aranda kicked the back seat and was able to loosen one side, the sheriff’s office said. His wife was able to crawl through the opening into the main cabin.
His wife told investigators that Aranda began breathing erratically before passing out, according to the sheriff’s office.
She was taken to St. Margaret’s Hospital for treatment to bruising on her hands. She is expected to be released later Tuesday.
Aranda, also known as “Don Pancho,” was the owner of Supermercado La Raza in the South Side for 40 years, according to Back of The Yards community organizer Berto Aguayo.
“My heart is so heavy with sadness,” Aguayo wrote on Facebook. An angel was taken from our community… Every time you went into the store, Don Pancho was always there to greet you with a smile and a witty joke.”
“Don Pancho was more than just a business owner, he was a beloved community leader in Back of the Yards that unknowingly helped thousands of people…” Aguayo said.
Autopsy results for Aranda released Tuesday were inconclusive pending further testing, the Will County coroner’s office said. Authorities said Aranda did not have any external trauma on his body.
The sheriff’s office is continuing their search for the two male subjects believed to be responsible for the home invasion. Suspect descriptions have not been released.