Skip to contents
Downtown

‘Walking Man,’ Set On Fire In River North, ‘Likely To Die,’ Reports Say

A man in a black and white Hoodrich jacket is being sought in the attack on Joseph Kromelis, who gained local fame by constantly walking Downtown's streets.

The Walking Man
Gettnerman/Flickr

RIVER NORTH — The famed “Walking Man” who treks the streets of Downtown with flowing gray hair and a steady stride, is in critical condition with severe burns over much of his body after someone doused him with a flammable liquid and set him on fire in River North.

Joseph Kromelis, 75, suffered burns over 65 percent of body and was taken to Northwestern Memorial hospital following the 2:50 a.m. Wednesday attack in the 400 block of lower North Wabash Avenue, where Kromelis was laying on the ground, officials said.

A police source told the Sun-Times that “we were just told he’s most likely to die.”

A man attacked him and ran off. A nearby security guard used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire and help the victim, police said. He was identified through the medications he was carrying, the Sun-Times reported.

Police said the attacker fled to the CTA Blue Line, where surveillance video captured images of him. Authorities said he wore a black and white Hoodrich jacket with a hood and gray sandals. He is described as a tall man, with medium-light complexion.

Credit: Chicago Police
Police released these photos of a man being sought in the attack of Joseph “Walking Man” Kromelis.

Kromelis is well known to Downtown regulars. For decades he’s walked the streets in suits with his signature mustache and long hair. He’s been the subject of countless photos of people who recognize him.

He was in the news in 2016 when he was attacked on Lower Wacker Drive. Police said someone with a baseball bat attacked him, leaving him hospitalized in serious condition.

Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation. 

Thanks for subscribing to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods. Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.