Police seek person of interest in Heart of Chicago arsons

- Police are asking for the public’s help identifying a person sought in connection with a series of arsons last month that left one man dead and 39 people displaced in the Heart of Chicago neighborhood.

Authorities released surveillance camera images Friday morning of a male who was seen walking and riding a bike near the 2100 block of South Paulina in the early morning hours of Sept. 16. Detectives are looking to identify or speak with the person in the photos in connection with six fires that were started in garbage cans in the area between 2:45 and 3:20 a.m.

Venancio Veracruz Benitez, 59, was found unresponsive in a garage that was set on fire in the 2100 block of West 21st Street, authorities said. He lived in the same block.

The person police are looking for is described as a white or Hispanic male standing 5-foot-10 or taller, and weighing about 180 pounds, police said. He was wearing a baseball cap, long-sleeved soiled shirt and red, knee-length shorts.

Anyone who saw or spoke to him in that area the night of the arsons, or who can identify him, should call arson detectives at (312) 746-7618.

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