Man Charged In Death Of Woman Found Burning In Garage

Updated 11/5/11 at 4:00 p.m.

CHICAGO (WBBM) – A Criminal Court judge has denied bail to a Mexican immigrant accused of murdering his downstairs neighbor, and then setting the body afire in the garage behind the Andersonville apartment building in which they lived.

Prosecutor Melissa Kennedy did not indicate to Judge James Brown whether suspect Pedro Cruz engaged in an argument leading up to the murder of 55-year-old Maria Santiago early Thursday in Cruz’s third floor apartment at 5039 N. Clark St.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts Reports

Kennedy said that first, Cruz beat Santiago about the face, head and body, then strangled her. Kennedy said Cruz dragged the body from his apartment, past the apartment in which Santiago’s family lived, to the garage behind the building. There, he allegedly set the body afire using charcoal briquettes.

Kennedy said Cruz then returned to his apartment and went to sleep. Someone called 911 after spotting smoke coming from the garage. Hours later, police arrested Cruz.

An autopsy conducted Friday by the Cook County Medical Examiner determined that she died of strangulation and multiple blunt trauma from an assault.

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