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Chicago's 'Walking Man,' Joseph Kromelis, dies of injuries suffered after being set on fire in May

Chicago's "Walking Man" has died after attack in May
Chicago's "Walking Man" has died after attack in May 00:36

CHICAGO (CBS)-- Joseph Kromelis, known as Chicago's "Walking Man," has died, months after he was set on fire while sleeping in River North, and his death has been ruled a homicide.

Kromelis was sleeping on Lower Wabash Avenue in River North back in May, when a man threw gasoline on his head and set him on fire.

At the time, authorities said the 75-year-old was not expected to survive, but in September, Kromelis was released from the hospital and transferred to a rehab center. He died Sunday afternoon, and an autopsy by the Cook County Medical Examiner's office determined he died of complications from the burns he suffered. His death was classified a homicide.

Known for his signature long hair, and mustache, and often seen wearing a sport coat, Kromelis was affectionately called "The Walking Man" by Chicagoans who saw him frequently roaming the city's streets for decades.  

The attack happened around 3 a.m. on May 25.  Police said the 75-year-old Kromelis was lying on the ground when another man approached him, poured a flammable liquid on him, set him on fire, and ran off. 

Kromelis suffered burns over 40% of his body. 

Police said a security officer at a building nearby jumped into action and used a fire extinguisher to get the fire out. Kromelis was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition.

Joseph Guardia, 27, of Melrose Park, is charged with attempted first-degree murder and arson in the attack on Kromelis.

Charges expected to be upgraded after death of 'Walking Man' Joseph Kromelis 00:31

Upgraded charges are expected as soon as Tuesday following the 75-year-old's death. 

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