Man charged with murder after Percy house fire leaves 4 children dead


by staff

Posted on May 11, 2013 at 8:17 AM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 4 at 3:47 PM

Percy, Illinois fire

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( -- Authorities filed charges against a suspect after a house fire left four children dead in Randolph County, Ill. early Friday morning.

Derrick J. Twardoski faces four counts of first-degree murder, according to a statement from the state’s attorney. Twardoski is being held without bond at the Randolph County Jail.

Twardoski is accused of deliberately setting fire to the home of the Owen family, located in the 800 block of West Almond in Percy, Ill.

Authorities said firefighters arrived to the scene and found the victims dead inside the home.

The victims were identified as Ethan Owen, 12, Kailey Owen, 9, and Brandon and Landon Owen, who were 5-year-old twins.

An autopsy to determine their cause of death was planned for Saturday, though officials believe their deaths were caused by the fire.

Officials say three adults and a 6-year-old child were able to escape the blaze. Randolph County Coroner Randy Dudenbostel said the 6-year-old was taken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.

The blaze badly damaged the two-story home, which is registered under the name Matthew Owen.

Percy, a village in a rural area that is home to about 1,000 people, is about 60 miles southeast of St. Louis.

Contributions to the victims' family can be made at First National Bank, located at 304 W. Main Street in Ava, Ill. Church services for the victims will be held in Steelville and Percy on Sunday.

Twardoski's first court appearance has been scheduled for Monday.