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Boy charged in 2019 fatal fire in Goodfield is now a suspect in new blaze

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A Goodfield youth accused of starting a fire that killed five people in April 2019 is a suspect in a fire set in September 2021, according to Woodford County State’s Attorney Greg Minger.

The prosecutor disclosed the most recent fire investigation at a hearing on Monday on several motions related to the pending juvenile court case against the child, who is now 12.

Minger said he will ask that the state be allowed to use the information on the September 2021 fire as part of its case. Minger did not elaborate on the details of the incident that allegedly took place while the child was in foster care with relatives.

In a recorded interview played in court Monday, the child admitted to a detective that he had played with matches in the past. He said he set a frisbee on fire in his father’s garage. “I put it out myself,” the child said of the fire.

Samantha Alwood, the child’s aunt, and his grandmother Lori Alwood testified about three other fires set in the presence of the child before the April 2019 fatal fire. Lori Alwood said the boy admitted to her that he set a chair on fire, but denied involvement in two other fires.

In his 45-minute interview with police, the boy denied setting fire to his family’s mobile home. The boy moved around in his chair during the interview and showed no emotion when the detective referred to the fire two days earlier that killed four of his relatives and his mother’s boyfriend.

Judge Charles Feeney ruled that the information on the previous three fires and the child’s statement can be used by the state.

The boy was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial last year. If the child is restored to fitness, a discharge hearing will be held where the boy could be placed on probation and ordered to receive additional mental health treatment.

Feeney set an April 11 hearing to review the status of the case. The boy’s attorney, Peter Dluski, said he will need time to review the state’s newest motion before a date for arguments is set.

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Edith began her career as a reporter with The DeWitt County Observer, a weekly newspaper in Clinton. From 2007 to June 2019, Edith covered crime and legal issues for The Pantagraph, a daily newspaper in Bloomington, Illinois. She previously worked as a correspondent for The Pantagraph covering courts and local government issues in central Illinois.
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