GOODFIELD – According to the Woodford County Coroner’s Office, a fire that killed five people, including three children, earlier this month at a mobile home park northeast of town was intentionally set and authorities now consider the case a homicide.
In a statement released on Thursday, Coroner Tim Ruestman noted those conclusions were reached after an investigation by his office, the Woodford County Sheriff's Office, the Eureka- Goodfield Fire Department, Illinois State Police, Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Woodford County State’s Attorney Office.
"It is believed that the fire was intentionally started. The manner of the five deaths will be ruled as homicide," said Ruestman, who added the investigation is ongoing.
According to Ruestman, a teenage juvenile is being questioned in the case.
The fire broke out shortly after 11 p.m., April 6 at 14 Cypress Court in the Timberline Trailer Court. Upon their arrival firefighters found the mobile home fully engulfed. Pronounced dead at the scene at 11:55 p.m. by Ruestman were Kathryn Murray, 69, Jason Wall, 34, Rose Alwood, 2, Damien Wall, also 2, and Ariel Wall, 1.
Two other residents, Katrina Alwood and her nine-year-old son, Kyle, escaped and were treated and released from OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria. Katrina Alwood was Jason Wall’s fiancee. Ariel Wall and Damien Wall were Katrina Alwood and Jason Wall’s children.
Autopsies concluded all five victims died as a result of carbon monoxide intoxication. The fire was reported around 11:19 p.m. Johnson arrived at 11:26 p.m. and snapped a photo that shows about half the trailer on fire. A minute later, it was engulfed.
“It was a fireball,” said neighbor Anna Marie Siebert. “My son woke up when he heard the explosion and we all went running.”
As a mom, “it rips your heart out,” she said. “Whatever caused it, whoever caused it does not change the fact that lives were lost. Heaven found a few new angels.”
According to State’s Attorney Greg Minger, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is involved in the case that is unrelated to the fire.
In the days since, neighbors have placed five wooden crosses in front of the home. According to Timber Court Manager Shawn Johnson, the structure at the end of Cypress Court will be torn down.
Until then, a tarp covers the center of the boarded-up trailer, which remains surrounded by burned insulation and siding.
According to Seibert, she and Johnson plan to bring in American Red Cross workers to talk about fire safety with the people who live in the trailer court.
“We’re going to make the community safer,” Siebert said. “We’re bringing in smoke alarms and we’re going to go over fire safety so it won’t be in vain, per se. You’ve gotta pull the positive and we’re going to do that.”