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Press Release

Man Accused of Setting Fire at Ex-Girlfriend’s St. Louis County Home

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri

ST. LOUIS – A man appeared in U.S. District Court in St. Louis Tuesday to face an indictment accusing him of setting fire to a St. Louis County home last month.

Christopher Willis, 39, pleaded not guilty to the felony charge of maliciously damaging or destroying by means of fire. The indictment says the fire occurred in a rental home on April 29 on Nero Drive in unincorporated St. Louis County.

A motion seeking to have Willis held in jail until trial says that six days after Willis and his girlfriend broke up, Willis entered her home with a key, took her cellular phone and piled some of her clothing in the basement. Willis then set fire to the clothing and walked away as the girlfriend, her daughter and her aunt slept, the motion says. Smoke alarms sounded and the three were able to escape the home, the motion says.

The charge carries a potential penalty of at least five years in prison and a maximum of 20 years, a $250,000 fine or both.

A charge set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt.  Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case was investigated by the St. Louis regional Bomb and Arson Unit and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Finlen is prosecuting the case. 

Updated May 16, 2023

Violent Crime