9-year-old charged with murder, arson in deadly Illinois fire

A 9-year-old was charged Tuesday with murder and arson in a central Illinois mobile home fire in April that killed five people, the Pantagraph reported.

Woodford County State’s Attorney Greg Minger was not able to provide much detail about the case because the suspect is a juvenile. He said the child has been charged with five counts of murder, two counts of arson, and one count of aggravated arson. The aggravated arson charge stems from the child’s knowledge that people were in the home when the fire was intentionally started.

Minger could not provide the child’s name, gender, or whereabouts because of privacy restrictions for juvenile suspects, nor could he describe any connections between the child and the victims, if any.

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“It is a little bit different than with an adult case because the proceedings will be closed,” Minger said. “Many of the elements are the same, but we are unable to give specifics, as we might be able to do in a similar situation with an adult.”

Neighbors at the mobile home park near Goodfield heard explosions shortly after 11 p.m. on April 6 and called authorities, the Pantagraph reported at the time.

The Woodford County Coroner said all five victims died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by byproducts of the fire. They were identified as  Kathryn Murray, 69; Jason Wall, 34; Rose Alwood, 2; Damien Wall, 2; and Ariel Wall, 1.

Two people escaped the fire: a woman and her 9-year-old child who were treated and released at a Peoria hospital. Minger would not say if the child is the same one now charged in the fire.

Authorities determined in mid-April the fire was intentionally set and said the investigation was a homicide investigation.

Minger said that the child, if convicted, could be put on probation for at least five years but not past age 21 and would likely be eligible for therapy and counseling.

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