Double Fatal Fire in Illinois Ruled Murder

The deaths of a 41-year-old woman and her 6-year-old son in an early morning fire in Cicero have been ruled homicides, according to officials Wednesday afternoon.

Two children were left hospitalized after the fire, which town officials have declared was set on purpose.

We are treating it as an arson investigation, according to Cicero Town spokesman Dan Proft.

We are doing a little more legwork before we can call it an open homicide investigation,said Proft, who said no one was in custody for the arson as of 3:15 p.m.

The dead were identified as Raquel Perez, 41, and Cesar Camacho, 6, of 1831 S. 57th Ave., Cicero, according to a Cook County Medical Examiners office spokesman.

Both died of carbon monoxide poisoning, inhalation of smoke and soot in the fire, according to a report from the medical examiners office, which ruled both deaths homicides.

Perez was pronounced dead at 3:55 a.m. Wednesday at the Stein Institute, while Cesar was pronounced dead there at 3:48 a.m. Wednesday, the spokesman said.

The Cicero Fire Department responded to the fire at a two-story frame bungalow at 12:23 a.m., Cicero police Cmdr. David Ciancio said. Raquel Perez had at least one other son living there who escaped safely, said Proft.

He said 12 people -- six adults and six minors -- were living in the home, including the mother and son who were killed. When firefighters arrived, everyone had gotten out except the mother and son, who were found in a first-floor bedroom, said Proft.

Two children are being treated at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, suffering from smoke inhalation, said Proft. Their conditions were not life-threatening, he said.

The 12 residents who lived there weren't all related, Proft said.

He said a smoke detector closest to the bedroom where the fire began didn't have batteries. There was another smoke detector in the basement that also had no batteries, but a working smoke detector on the second floor alerted the others, said Proft.

The bedroom where the mother and son were found was gutted by the fire, and there was also damage to the adjacent kitchen, said Proft.

Candles were found in the bedroom where the fire broke out, said Proft.

Catholic Charities and the American Red Cross were helping the surviving residents find a place to stay.

Copyright 2006, Chicago Sun-Times Inc.

Copyright 2006 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.