There is evidence that the juveniles charged last week in connection with causing the fire in May that destroyed large parts of the shuttered Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles previously had vandalized the complex.
“We know from going through their [electronic] devices we definitely pinpointed a few occasions where they went in and caused damage, breaking windows, throwing things out windows, things of that nature,” St. Charles Police Chief James Keegan said after Monday’s St. Charles City Council meeting. “There was a group of some of the minors – maybe not all of the four – but there was a group of at least a few of them that went in at least two other times and caused damage in the resort prior to the day they went in as a group of four and started the fires.”
Two male juveniles – one from Carol Stream and one from Wheaton – have been charged with causing the fire, while two other male juveniles – one from Carol Stream and one from Winfield – each have been charged with trespassing at the resort.
DuPage County Judge Anthony Coco had ordered the two charged with starting the fire be detained. The other two were released to the custody of their parents on home detention.
The detained juveniles each have been charged with one felony count of arson, one felony count of burglary, one felony count of criminal damage to property and three misdemeanor counts of criminal trespass to a building. The two boys who were released to their parents’ custody each have been charged with two counts of criminal trespass to a building. The boys’ ages range from 14 to 17 years old.
“We believe there were two intentional fires set,” Keegan said. “Some of that material was corroborated based on the arson investigation we did with our fire department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the State Fire Marshal. … There were two distinct fires in two separate areas.”
According to authorities, the four juveniles illegally entered the property and two of the juveniles allegedly were involved in setting papers on fire at two separate locations. The two juveniles who had set the papers on fire allegedly then left the area without extinguishing the fires.
About 4:41 p.m. May 21, the St. Charles police and fire departments responded to the former Pheasant Run resort at 4051 E. Main St. after reports of a fire at the site. Upon their arrival, authorities found large sections of the resort engulfed in flames.
It took more than 100 firefighters from 26 fire departments to extinguish the blaze. The main lobby, Bourbon Street and the A, B and E wings of the hotel rooms at Pheasant Run were destroyed in the fire.
Crews were able to save the 16-story tower on the property along with a dairy barn that had housed a restaurant. A building that had housed a 320-seat amphitheater also was saved.