jueves, 30 de mayo de 2013

Man who set Lawndale fire dies, officials say - Chicago Tribune

A man who poured a flammable liquid on several people — setting a fire that left one woman dead and two of her children badly burned in the Lawndale neighborhood early Saturday — has died, officials said.

The children, 4 and 9, remained in very critical condition Sunday night in the pediatric intensive care unit, Stroger Hospital spokeswoman Marisa Kollias said.

"The hospital medical team is doing everything they can, obviously, in a very difficult situation," Kollias said. "It's very tragic."

Nathaniel Beller, 29, was pronounced dead at 12:10 p.m. at Stroger, according to a spokesman for the Cook County medical examiner's office. Beller was suspected of setting the fire in the 4200 block of West 21st Place, the spokesman said.

Beller had been convicted of domestic battery against the victim and had an order of protection entered against him in the case, according to court records.

Although the medical examiner's office listed Beller's home address as the address of the fire, court records indicate he also recently has lived in the 4500 block of West Jackson Boulevard.

An autopsy will be conducted Monday to determine the cause of Beller's death. The woman suffered burns over 80 percent of her body and was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and then to Stroger, where she died, officials said. An autopsy revealed that she had been stabbed, the medical examiner's office said. Taniya Johnson, 33, of the 4500 block of West Harrison Street, and was pronounced dead at 7:40 a.m., officials said.

Beller, who also has gone by the names Nathaniel Beler, Jeremy Murphy and Nathaniel Beller Jr., pleaded guilty in 2007 to misdemeanor domestic battery against Johnson, according to court records.

The battery took place in a home in the 1200 block of South Kolin Avenue, in July 2007, according to police records. Beller had an order of protection entered against him on her Johnson's behalf and was found guilty of violating the order of protection in June 2008, according to court records. The original order was dismissed in February 2009, and Beller completed his probation in September 2009.

After the order of protection ended, however, a special order on behalf of Johnson was entered by Judge James Patrick Murphy on behalf of Johnson, according to court records.

In the fire Saturday, a girl was taken to Stroger with burns over her entire body, officials said. A boy also was brought there, with burns to 35 percent of his body, fire officials said. Johnson was the mother of the two children, officials said.

Two women, ages 60 and 84, were taken in fair to serious condition to St. Anthony Hospital.

Authorities said the fire was being investigated as an arson, and it appears someone poured an accelerant around the apartment and possibly on the children. Relatives told investigators that someone in the house had mental issues and had threatened to burn down the house, according to authorities, citing preliminary information.

Authorities said an empty gas can was found behind the home.



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