Man Charged With Murder, Arson In Fire That Killed 5 Children, Injured 4 In Western Illinois

Sunday, April 15th 2007, 2:11 pm
By: News On 6

QUINCY, Ill. (AP) _ A man was charged with setting a house on fire in western Illinois early Sunday and killing five children, police said.

Four other people, including a fire fighter, were injured in the blaze. The bodies of four boys and a girl _ ages 8 months to 10 years _ found on the second story were likely family members, officials said.

Zachary Q. Meeks, 27, was charged with five counts of first-degree murder, one count of aggravated arson and one count of arson, police said.

Authorities said Meeks was arrested after being questioned about the fire in this community along the Mississippi River that began around 3 a.m.

Rescuers arrived to find the two-story brick home engulfed in flames and later discovered the five bodies inside, authorities said. Flames could be seen shooting through the house's windows, neighbors said.

One victim was airlifted to a Springfield hospital in critical condition, police Sgt. Doug Schlueter said. Two others were treated and released from Blessing Hospital, spokeswoman Chris Tysinger said.

A firefighter was recovering from burns to his face, said Keith Frank, an assistant fire chief.

Police said Meeks was being held in the Adams County Jail.