HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. (WJBK) - The investigation into suspicious fire at an abandoned house may become a homicide probe.
A man's body was found beneath the rubble inside 238 Richton Street in Highland Park. Arson investigators made the discovery after going back to the property days after the fire Sunday night.
"We wouldn't have found that body because the structure was unsafe to go in at the time," said Fire Chief Kevin Coney. "We didn't have any indication that somebody was inside the dwelling."
Coney says the man was dead before the fire gutted this house-investigators found evidence of a gunshot wound and the blaze here may have been an effort to cover up a murder.
"This is a known area for (drug) trafficking," Coney said. "There are three or four abandoned houses, an abandoned store right here. We had some problems over here and so we're just doing what we're supposed to do to find out what happened. human trafficking or drug trafficking? drug trafficking.
The fire caused the second floor to collapse. The man, said to be in his mid-twenties, was found underneath some debris in the dining room after falling from the bedroom above it.
Investigators eyeballed what appeared to be bullet holes on the house that caught fire and the house next door.
"It sounded like it was coming from inside the house and that's what I heard," said neighbor Charmaignette Vanzant. "I didn't even know that it had hit my house.
Vanzant remembers hitting the deck upon hearing the gunshots Saturday night --- and seeing flames shortly after.
"I finally got back in the bed and I saw light and thought, they were lighting fireworks," she said. "I went outside and the whole back of the house was on fire."
As the investigation continues and police try to identify the man, if you have any information on what happened call Highland Park police at (313) 852-7338.