Tuesday, August 14, 2012

VIlla Park, IL: Villa Park man pleads ‘not guilty’ in fire that killed ex-girlfriend

Todd Mandoline, 23, pleaded “not guilty” to first-degree murder and aggravated arson charges stemming from the July 22 fire in Lombard.

His former girlfriend, Paula Morgan, died in the early -orning blaze that destroyed her home, while 25-year-old Jason Cassidy — a friend who was at Morgan’s birthday party — was badly burned and remains hospitalized, authorities said.

Mandoline allegedly set fire to Morgan’s car after he was thrown out of her party earlier in the evening.

The flames spread from the car to her attached garage and then to her two-story, frame house, prosecutors have said.

Morgan’s 6-year-old son escaped the house uninjured, but Morgan and Cassidy apparently were trapped on the second floor, authorities have said.

Mandoline sent repeated text messages to Morgan before allegedly setting the fire after she refused to respond, prosecutors said.

If convicted, Mandoline could face a life sentence. He is being held without bail in the DuPage County Jail.

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