Body found in Brown Deer home that caught fire

BROWN DEER (WITI) -- Investigators say they recovered a body from a home that caught fire near 63rd and Wabash in Brown Deer early Monday morning, December 30th.

Crews were first dispatched to the scene around 5 a.m. Monday. Officials say they only found the body after a secondary search of the home. The victim is so badly burned that officials cannot positively determine whether it is a man or woman. An autopsy is planned to determine the identity.

"I got out and I just saw fire trucks speeding by here and flames, huge flames coming out of the roof down the street there and I saw ambulances. They were kind of running into that house and running out. It was crazy," neighbor Sarah Reuter said.

Officials say they know who owns the home -- but have not made contact with that person.

The man who lived in the home is 47-year-old Ronnie Johnson -- a former educator who is facing more than 20 charges related to the sexual assault of children.

Johnson was once principal of the Young Leaders Academy in Milwaukee -- and is accused of luring boys to the home -- which he called "The Ranch." It is there police say Johnson sexually assaulted the children and teens.

Neighbors say they are feeling uneasy about the whole thing.

"Someone died up the street in the middle of the night. The house fire alone was a little nerve-racking, you know what I mean?" Reuter said.

In addition to the fire itself, firefighters dealt with bitter cold temperatures -- which dipped several degrees below zero early Monday. While the cold was a challenge for firefighters, access to water was not. Officials say residents had done a good job of making sure the fire hydrants in the neighborhood were dug out from recent snows.

The North Shore Fire Department and Brown Deer Police Department are working jointly on this investigation.

Monitor FOX6 News and for updates on this developing story.