Man charged in fatal Randolph County house fire

The scene on Friday following a fatal house fire in the Randolph County town of Percy. (North County News photo)

Police have charged a man following a house fire that killed four children in the Randolph County town of Percy early Friday morning. The children ranged in ages from 5 to 12 years old.

The victims were identified as Ethan Owen, 12, Kailey Owen, 9, and twin brothers Brandon and Landon Owen, both 5. Parents Matt and Natasha Owen, along with their fifth child and a cousin, survived the fire, according to information provided by the County Journal.

Derrick Twardoski

Derrick J. Twardoski, 33, who was listed as a resident of Waterloo in recent years, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder for allegedly setting the blaze. Police have failed to provide a motive in the case at this time. 

A judge denied bond for Twardoski during a court appearance in Chester on Monday morning. He entered a not guilty plea and cried heavily as the judge read charges against him, according to media reports.

 A preliminary hearing has been set for June 3.

The fire was classified as suspicious in nature. Illinois State Police, the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office and Randolph County Sheriff’s Department are among the agencies investigating. It was reported at the home on West Almond Street shortly before 2 a.m. Friday, according to the North County News.

A fund has been set up to help the Owen family at First National Bank of Steeleville. Donations can be made in care of the Owen Family Benefit Fund.

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