Arson fire in Illinois kills 4 children

May 12, 2013 at 10:51 AM
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PERCY, Ill., May 12 (UPI) -- Police said they arrested a man for purposely setting a fire in a Percy, Ill. home that killed four children.

The victims, all members of the Owen family, were identified as Ethan, 12, Kailey, 9, and twins Brandon and Landon, 5.

Four others escaped the blaze -- parents Matthew and Natasha Owen, a fifth child and an 18-year-old relative.

Police arrested Derrick J. Twardoski, 33, a few hours after the fire, which occurred early Friday.

He was charged with four counts of first-degree murder.

Investigators declined to release Twardowski's possible motive, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

"This does not appear to be any sort of random act," Randolph County State's Attorney Jeremy Walker told the Post-Dispatch.

The fire broke out just before 2 a.m. Friday, when the four children who were killed were sleeping upstairs, authorities said, while surviving members of the family were sleeping downstairs.

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