9-year-old charged with 5 counts of murder over Illinois house fire

The mobile home fire left five people dead, including three children.

October 9, 2019, 5:20 AM

A 9-year-old from Illinois was charged with murder on Tuesday in connection with a fire at a mobile home earlier this year that killed five people, including three children.

State prosecutors charged the child with five counts of first-degree murder, two counts of arson and one count of aggravated arson, accusing the juvenile of intentionally setting the deadly April fire in Goodfield, the Woodford County State’s Attorney Office told local news outlets.

The fire's youngest victim was just 1 year old.

The office did not say if there were any known connections between the suspect and the victims, but they said the fire was set with the knowledge that people were home, according to the Journal Star, which first reported the story.

"It was a heavy decision," Woodford County State’s Attorney Greg Minger told the Journal Star Tuesday. "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."

PHOTO: A crime scene is depicted in this undated stock image.
A crime scene is depicted in this undated stock image.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

"I just think it needs to be done at this point, for finality," he added.

Minger said the aggravated-arson charge suggests the suspect knew others were present when the fire was set. The suspect, whose identity is being withheld, will not face incarceration.

If convicted, the suspect will likely undergo mandatory therapy, psychological evaluation and counseling, according to Minger.

The fire at the Timberline Mobile Home Park in Goodfield claimed the lives of Kathryn Murray, 69; Jason Wall, 34; Rose Alwood, 2; Daemeon Wall, 2; and Ariel Wall, 1. Two others managed to escape.

Tuesday's arrest is one of several recent high-profile arrests of children under the age of 10.

Two 6-year-old students were arrested last month in Florida after one of them kicked a staff member while having a temper tantrum.

The month before, a 10-year-old boy was arrested on charges of aggravated assault after he threw a ball at another child's face during a dodgeball game.

Annual crime statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation show that between 2013 and 2018, at least 30,467 children under the age of 10 were arrested in the United States.

The Woodford County State’s Attorney Office did not respond to ABC News' requests for comment.