A nineteen-year-old is in custody today after being charged in connection with a fire in early December that destroyed a Metro East mayor's home.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports
that Yadarius A. Crawford was charged with arson on Thursday for allegedly setting Alorton Mayor JoAnn Reed's house on fire on December 3. The charge is a class X felony, a serious offense in Illinois that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of six to thirty years and no possibility of probation.
St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly says Crawford knowingly damaged Reed's home, located in the 100 block of North 42nd Street, and was aware that Reed was present at the time. Reed escaped the fire with only the clothes on her back, and credits her security company with saving her life.
“Fifty-two years of memories are gone,” Reed told the Belleville News-Democrat
at the time of the fire. “My family and I no longer have pictures of my mother when she was sixteen, seventeen years old. All of our family heirlooms are gone. All of the things you cannot replace are gone.”
Reed's daughter tells KMOV
that this isn't the first time a home they lived in was damaged by fire. She says there were incidents in 2007 and 2017 as well. There were no arrests in the prior incidents.
“It’s been going on for ten-plus years at this point," Reed’s daughter tells KMOV
. "They came and threw bricks through all of our car windows while we were having a family function, everybody’s windows were busted out. So this is some stuff that’s been going on for some time.”
Reed's daughter says a witness saw a figure dressed in all black by the house close to the time the fire started. She suspects that person threw an object through the home's front window, igniting the fire. Reed was able to escape the flames through a side door.
The Illinois State Fire Marshal’s office is credited for investigating the case, with help from the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office and the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department.
Crawford is being held on a $250,000 bond.
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