Man charged with murder of 4 children after fire found fit to st - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Man charged with murder of 4 children after fire found fit to stand trial

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Derrick J. Twardoski Derrick J. Twardoski
Owen children Owen children
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CHESTER, IL (KFVS) -

A man facing four murder charges in connection with the deaths of four children who died in a fire in Percy, Illinois has been found fit to stand trial.

Derrick J. Twardoski, 33, is charged with four counts of first degree murder by Randolph County State's Attorney Jeremy R. Walker.

He pleaded not guilty and is due back in court in August.

Ethan Owen, 12, Kailey Owen, 9, Brandon and Landon Owen, both 5 (twin brothers), died in the fire that broke out before 2 a.m. on May 10.

An uncle of the father of the home says the four children who died were sleeping on the second floor of the home. The parents and a child who were sleeping on the first floor of the home were able to get out. That child suffered smoke inhalation. An 18-year-old woman who was in the basement also escaped.

Percy is a village in a rural area that is home to about 1,000 people. Percy is about 60 miles southeast of St. Louis.

The blaze badly damaged the two-story home.

A memorial account has been set up at the First National Bank of Steeleville. Another memorial account has been set up at the First National Bank of Ava. Anyone wishing to contribute to the account may send checks to the First National Bank of Ava, at 304 E Main Street, Ava Illinois 62907. Checks should be written to the "Matthew Owen Benefit Fund". All funds will be dispersed to the surviving family members.

The Randolph County Sheriff's Office, Illinois State Police, Randolph County Coroner, State Fire Marshal, Steeleville Police Department, Randolph County State's Attorney, Jackson County Sheriff and State's Attorney's Office, Perry County Sheriff and State's Attorney's Office and Washington County Sheriff's Office assisted in the investigation. First responders from the Percy Fire Department, Steeleville Fire Department, and Medstar Ambulance provided assistance.

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