BY KIM JANSSEN Staff writer
Except for the barking dog, nobody was home at Joseph Basile’s dirty-white, single-story home in the 3500 block of John Street in Steger on Wednesday afternoon.
Basile was dead, and his dog’s leash was in police custody, at the center of a nightmarish homicide probe.
Steger police say members of 90-year-old Basile’s family bound him in duct tape, then lashed him to a recliner with the leash.
Officers rescued the grandfather Saturday evening after neighbors discovered him tied up, with bruises and bed sores, and dialed 911.
But after three nights at St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights, Basile, a cancer patient, died Tuesday evening.
The Cook County medical examiner’s office Wednesday ruled his death a homicide, saying he’d died from dehydration and elder abuse.
“Tying up an old man isn’t right,” said neighbor Cecilia Turner, whose mother Sandra raised the alarm Saturday.
“They left his 14-year-old granddaughter to care for him, and she couldn’t cope.”
Turner, 18, said her mother sometimes acted as a caregiver for Basile but that she had “freaked out” when she found Basile bound with tape and the leash Saturday evening.
Turner, her mother and Turner’s sister Amanda went back to the home, then called police, Cecilia said.
“They said to leave everything how it was until they arrived,” she said.
“The old man was alone in there with his sister and his granddaughter, but they didn’t want to deal with him so they taped him to the chair.
“He had bruises across his arms where he’d been taped.”
Basile’s son, Joe Basile Jr., was not at the family home and could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Steger Police Chief Richard Stultz confirmed that a 14-year-old girl and Basile’s elderly sister had been left in charge of Basile’s care while Basile’s son was on vacation.
Basile’s family is cooperating with the investigation, he said, adding that the case was “a difficult one.”
“We’ll be speaking today with the state’s attorney to see if we can bring charges and what charges, but that will be the state’s attorney’s decision,” he said.
The family told police they had restrained Basile, who also suffered from dementia, because he tried to get up and move around, which resulted in his falling and hurting himself, Stultz said.
They have provided police with details of what Basile ate and drank in the days leading up to his death, he said.
Contributing: Annie Sweeney, Chicago Sun-Times
Kim Janssen can be reached at [email protected] or (708) 633-5998.