Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cicero applauds conviction of first of two suspects in Valentine’s Day arson

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Cicero applauds conviction of first of two suspects in Valentine’s Day arson

Fire claimed life of seven victims, including a 3-day old baby

Cicero Town President Larry Dominick today applauded the hard work of the Cicero Police Department, the Cicero Fire Department, the Illinois State Fire Marshall and the Cook County State’s Attorneys office in securing convictions Monday against accused arson conspirator Lawrence Myers.

Myers was the owner of a three-story building at 3034 S. 48th Court in Cicero that had burned down in the early morning hours of Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2010.

Through an investigation led by the Cicero Fire and Cicero Police Departments, it was determined that Myers instructed his maintenance employee, Marion Comier, to set the building on fire in order to collection on a $250,000 insurance policy.

Myers was convicted by a jury in a two day trial that began Friday. A separate trial is set for Comier.

“President Dominick wanted to thank the jury for convicting Myers in the first of two cases involving the most heinous arson fires we’ve seen in many years,” said Town Spokesman Ray Hanania.

“This case would never have been solved but for the fast action of the Cicero Fire Department in responding to the fire, and also to the hard work of the team of detectives of the Cicero Police Department who obtained undercover audio tapes that were instrumental in the conviction.”

The victims were Byron Reed, 20; Sallie Gist, 19; and their sons Rayshawn Reed, 3, and Brian Reed, 3 days old. The fire also killed Sallie Gist's brother and sister, 16-year-old twins Elijah Gist and Elisha Gist; and family friend Tiera Davidson, 18.

“On Sunday Feb. 14, 2010 at approximately 6:30 am, Cicero police and Cicero fire departments responded to an emergency fire call at a three-story apartment building at 3034 S. 48th Court. As a result of that fire, seven people, ranging in ages from 3 days old to 20 years old, lost their lives,” said Cicero Police Superintendent Jerry Chlada Jr. Earlier this week, Chlada was named to succeed Police Supt. Bernard Harrison who retired but was in charge of the police investigation at the time of the fire.

“The homeowner and the maintenance man were charged with seven counts of first degree murder and several counts of aggravated arson. Today, a Cook County jury found the property owner, Lawrence Martin, guilty on all counts,”

Chlada said the investigation was spearheaded by the Cicero Police Department working in conjunction with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office and the Cicero Fire Department, along with the Illinois State Fire Marshall’s office.

Chlada introduced the detectives involved in the investigation, Detective Sgt. Nino Scimone, Commander Raul Perez and Detective Joseph Melone who was the lead investigator on the case.

“During the course of the investigation, we developed information that the homeowner and the maintenance man had conspired to burn down the building for the purposes of collecting insurance money,” Melone said.

“We located a cooperating witness who agreed to wear a wire and recorded many conversations that more than assisted in this investigation. That’s just a piece of the puzzle though. I want to thank the hard work of our team at the Cicero Police Department, the hard work of the Cicero Fire Marshall Ron Opalecky, the Illinois State Fire Marshall and the prosecutors in the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.”