The man accused of setting the Randolph County house fire that killed four children has pleaded not guilty.
33-year-old Derrick Twardoski is facing murder charges after allegedly setting the fire that killed 12-year-old Ethan Owen, 9-year-old Kailey Owen, and five-year-old twins Brandon and Landon Owen in Percy, a village 60 miles southeast of St. Louis. A judge ordered him jailed without bond and assigned him to be represented by a public defender. State's Attorney Jeremy Walker says he doesn't consider the fire random, though he's declined to detail what led investigators to Twardoski or any relationship he may have had with the victims.
Randolph County Coroner Randy Dudenbostel has confirmed that all four died of smoke inhalation.
Funeral services for the children will be Tuesday at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Steelville, Illinois.
Donation are being accepted at the church to help the family with their expenses.
The funeral service for the Owen children has been planned. It will be held Tuesday, May 14, at 2:00pm at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Steeleville, IL, with visitation Monday evening from 4:00pm until 8:00pm and again Tuesday from 7:30am until 1:45pm also at the church.
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Exactly how much the soggy spring has slowed farmers' efforts to plant their corn will become a bit clearer.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday was to issue its latest update on spring plantings.
A week ago, the USDA reported that just 12 percent of the nation's cornfields have been planted. That's about a quarter of what was planted by this date over the previous five years, and it marks the slowest start in decades in some states.
In Illinois, only 7 percent of the Illinois corn crop was sown.
Yet USDA estimates that while the wet start is expected to reduce the amount each acre produces this year, farmers are planting so much corn that they're still likely to bring in a record amount.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois House has approved legislation that would impose tougher punishment on anyone convicted of using social media to plan or incite a mob attack.
The bill passed the Senate last month. The 102-6 House vote now sends the measure to Gov. Pat Quinn.
Lawmakers said the legislation is in response to recent incidents in Chicago in which groups of young people descended on Michigan Avenue and other locations to rob or attack people.
Police say the suspects used text messaging and social media such as Twitter to organize and publicize the attacks.
The bill would allow a judge to impose an extended sentence if someone used electronic communication in a mob action.
Rep. Christian Mitchell is a Chicago Democrat. He says the legislation will make communities throughout Illinois safer.