A 9-year-old child is facing multiple murder charges in connection to a mobile home fire that left five people dead, the Peoria Journal Star reports.
Illinois prosecutors filed the charges Tuesday, about six months after the deadly blaze at Timberline Mobile Home Park in Goodfield. Authorities have accused the child of intentionally setting the residence on fire, resulting in the deaths of two adults and three toddlers. The outlet reports Kathryn Murray, 69; Jason Wall, 34; Rose Alwood, 2; Daemeon Wall, 2; and Ariel Wall, 1, all died of smoke inhalation and were pronounced dead at the scene.
According to The Pantagraph, Katrina Alwood and her 9-year-old son escaped the blaze and were treated at a Peoria hospital. Authorities have not said whether Katrina Alwood's son was the child being charged.
The 9-year-old has not been publicly identified, and it is currently unclear if the child was related to the victims. In addition to five counts of first-degree murder, the child was hit with two counts of arson and one count of aggravated arson. The latter charge suggests the suspect knew people were inside the home at the time they allegedly started the fire.
"It was a heavy decision," Woodford County State's Attorney Greg Minger said. "It's a tragedy, but at the end of the day it's charging a very young person with one of the most serious crimes we have. But I just think it needs to be done at this point, for finality."
Minger also said the 9-year-old will not face incarceration if convicted; instead, they will likely undergo mandatory therapy, counseling, and psychological evaluation.
"Probation, given the age, is about the only outcome that could happen here," he said.