Mt. Vernon Register-News


July 2, 2014

Multiple arson charges filed

MT. VERNON — A city man is facing several charges in connection with a fire set on June 27 on Game Farm Road in Jefferson County.

Alec K. McLaughlin, 21, of the 1000 block of South 22nd Street, was arrested after allegedly setting a car on fire inside the storage building, then being involved in an roll-over vehicle accident about a quarter mile from the scene on Illinois Route 37.

According to reports, McLaughlin was first charged with aggravated driving under the influence and driving on a suspended license. He was taken to Good Samaritan Regional Health Center for treatment of injuries in the accident. After treatment, he was taken to the Jefferson County Justice Center for questioning and taken into custody.

According to information filed by Jefferson County State’s Attorney Doug Hoffman on Monday, McLaughlin is charged with three counts of aggravated arson and three counts of arson in connection with the incident.

The first count of aggravated arson alleges McLaughlin damaged the pole barn storage structure belonging to Donald and Barbara Childers as well as their 2008 Ford Mustang, a 1985 Mercury Capri and a 1979 Ford Mustang and that during the fire, Jefferson Fire Protection District Chief Robert Beal was injured.

The second count alleges McLaughlin damaged a 1994 Gulfstream Conquest motor home owned by Samuel and Cassandra Andrews and that Beal was injured as a result of the fire.

The third count of aggravated arson alleges McLaughlin damaged a 2002 Crownline boat and trailer belonging to Warren Holtz and that Beal was injured as a result of the fire.

The three counts of arson mirror the three counts of aggravated arson but do not include the aggravating factor of Beal’s injury. According to Beal, he received a first-degree burn on one of the doors of the pole barn while directing other firefighters at the scene.

McLaughlin was advised of the charges Tuesday by video court. Judge Jo Beth Weber set bond at $150,000, and appointed Public Defender Sean Featherstun as his attorney.

A preliminary hearing in the case is set for July 23.

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