Kyle Alwood is a 9-year-old Illinois boy who is accused of five counts of murder in the arson-related deaths of five family members.
Killed in the fire were: Daemon Wall, 2; Ariel Wall, 1; Kathryn Murray, 69; Jason Wall, 34; and Rose Alwood, 2. Kyle’s mother was in the mobile home too but escaped. The first two children are also her kids. Murray was her grandmother, Jason her fiancee, and Rose her niece, according to CBS. Kyle was only 8 when the blaze occurred.
However, the lead prosecutor told PJStar that probation is the likely outcome, not incarceration, because of Kyle’s young age. Charging such a young child with murder is considered both unusual and controversial.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Kyle’s Mother Says He’s Not a ‘Monster’
Katrina Alwood appeared on CBS This Morning and indicated that her son has mental health issues, describing him as being diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and ADHD. The mother gave CBS permission to publish her son’s name.
However, she adamantly denied that he’s a “monster.”
“Everyone is looking at him like he’s some kind of monster, but that’s not who he is,” she said on the television program. “People make mistakes, and that’s what this is. Yes, it was a horrible tragedy, but it’s still not something to throw his life away over.”
The mother described how she escaped from the inferno but couldn’t save the others. “I stood at the window and I told my kids I was sorry I couldn’t save them. Mommy was right here and I loved them. You know, so, at least hopefully they heard that. I told Jason I loved him… And then something told me that they’re gone,” she told CBS.
On her Facebook page, Katrina has posted many pictures with her family members. She’s posted depression memes and a graphic that read, “My rapidly declining mental health and suicidal tendacies (sic).”
“I love how everyone know how everyone is supposed to grieve. I use humor to keep myself from killing myself because the night of the fire I lost my whole reason for living but go ahead and say what you want cause God and I know the truth and that’s all that matters,” she wrote a few hours before the CBS interview aired.
2. Authorities Said Previously That They Thought the Fire Was Intentionally Set
Authorities don’t think the deadly blaze was an accident. The fire burst out in April 2019, consuming the family’s mobile home in Goodfield, Illinois.
According to Ohio.com, the local coroner determined after an investigation that the fire was set intentionally and that, thus, the deaths of the family members were homicides.
The story last spring reported that Kyle Alwood escaped the blaze with his mother and was treated and released at a hospital. It did not identify him as the suspect at that time. The fire occurred in a mobile home park.
3. The 9-Year-old Was Charged With Five Counts of First-Degree Murder
Despite the boy’s tender age, he was hit with five counts of first-degree murder in October 2019. However, authorities did not release his name because of his young age.
He was also charged with three arson counts. The prosecutor, Woodford County State’s Attorney Greg Minger, defended the decision to charge a 9-year-old boy.
“It was a heavy decision,” he said to PJStar.com. “It’s a tragedy, but at the end of the day it’s charging a very young person with one of the most serious crimes we have.
“But I just think it needs to be done at this point, for finality.” He told the newspaper that there will be a trial to the judge with no jury.
4. Kyle’s Mom Previous Set up a GoFundMe Page to Save Her Van, Which Was All She Had Left After the Fire
There is a GoFundMe page in Katrina Alwood’s name. “On April 6th at 11:55pm I lost 2 children under 3, my 2 year old niece, my fiance love of my life, and my grandmother in a tragic mobile home fire and I lost every thing,” she wrote.
“The only thing i have left is the van that we shared and I’m almost completely out of time to get it legal or there gonna tow it and I’ll never see it ever again and i cant lose no more it’s all I have left of all the memories of my family so please help me and god bless everyone.”
The page raised just over $1,000. The headline on the page reads, “I dont have much time to get my van leagle (sic).”
5. Murder Charges Against a Child This Young Are Controversial & Extremely Rare
Legal experts told USA Today that murder charges against a 9-year-old boy are extremely uncommon and raise concerning questions due to the youth’s cognitive abilities at that age. However, murder charges against a child that young have happened in the past. A judge in Michigan dismissed a charge filed against a 9 year old boy accused of shooting his mother, declaring him incompetent because he was not yet 10 years old, according to The Associated Press.
A July 2019 United Nations report studied children “deprived of liberty.” It said, in part, “Childhood, the time between birth and reaching the age of 18 years, is when children develop their personality, their emotional relationships with others, their social and educational skills and their talents. International law recognizes the family as the natural and fundamental group unit of society. Children should grow up in a family environment where they experience love, protection and security. If children, for whatever reason, cannot grow up in a family, States shall ensure that they are cared for in a family-type environment. Placing children in institutions and other facilities where they are, or may be, deprived of liberty is difficult to reconcile with the guiding principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”