Child Arsonist Is Charged With Murder In Tragic Case

Children should be playing hide-and-seek outside or building tree forts in the woods.

But for kids with mental illness, the challenges and thoughts they encounter are outside the scope of fun and games, and need to be addressed before they become a reality.

One boy has done the unthinkable, and his actions will echo beyond his understanding.

Independent reports: 

“A nine-year-old has been charged with five counts of murder after a fire killed three children, including a one-year-old baby, and two adults in central Illinois.”

The young arsonist has been identified as Kyle Alwood, reports CBS News. Social Services were not unfamiliar with Kyle, who is allegedly schizophrenic, after visiting the home several times.

The other victims were Alwood’s other children, Daemeon Wall, 2, and Ariel Wall, 1; her grandmother, Kathryn Murray, 69; her fiancé, Jason Wall, 34; and her niece, Rose Alwood, 2.

Alwood was in the home when the fire began, but claimed she was only able to save herself as she heard the screams of her children inside, reports CBS News. 

According to the San Francisco Fire Department, there are nearly 4,000 deaths every year from house fires.

It may not be common to hear of someone’s home burning to the ground, but it is never easy to endure such tragic news. 

In a matter of moments, a family’s life can change forever, as unforgiving flames swallow up decades of memories and hard work. 

The case in Illinois is especially tragic because the arsonist was only a child, and it can be speculated that the behavior was acted out of unprocessed emotions and not out of malice. 

A charge of this severity was not done without careful consideration, but it was confirmed that the child started the fire intentionally, Independent reports.

Greg Minger, Woodford County  State Attorney found the charge difficult but necessary:

It was a heavy decision. 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.”

After careful review of the arson reports, Minger went forward with first-degree murder charges in addition to two counts of arson and one count of aggravated arson.

The chid’s mother, Katie Alwood, has come out in her son’s defense, pleading with prosecutors to see the act as a “mistake.”

CBS News corresponded Errol Barnett reports:

Everyone is looking at him like he’s some kind of monster, but that’s not who he is. People make mistakes, and that’s what this is. Yes, it was a horrible tragedy, but it’s still not something to throw his life away over.”

There are many opinions on this case. Some believe that the child should not be charged because of his age and lack of adequate development to truly understand the absolute nature of his actions. 

The other camp sees a need for consequence after a crime was intentionally committed, resulting in the deaths of innocent people.

Betsy Clark, an advocate for children within the criminal justice system, did not feel the charges were appropriate.

Clark said, as reported by the Independent, that the charges were “completely out of line, given everything we have learned … especially about the brain development of children.”

Either way, it is heartbreaking how a young boy was able to think up such an act and how he had the resources to carry out the heinous crime. 

If the child is found guilty of murder, “they could be placed on probation for at least five years,” reports the Independent.

Any probation could not extend beyond the child’s 21st birthday, but mandatory counseling and therapy are likely up until that point.

Suspects younger than 10 years of age cannot be detained in Illinois, so the child will have no arrest warrant. He will, however, be appointed a lawyer to represent him.

Minger added, “Probation, given the age, is about the only outcome that could happen here.” 

To get a conviction of first-degree murder the prosecutors will need to prove that the nine-year-old child had intent to kill the victims. 

The United Nations has recently recommended that all children under 14 not be allowed to be prosecuted with any crime. 

We will have to see how this unprecedented case unfolds, paving the way for future convictions of children.

Please let us know in the comments section if you think a nine-year-old should be able to be charged with first-degree murder.