A Missouri man is facing second-degree murder chargers after investigators say he intentionally set fire to a home, trapping a 16-year-old boy with autism inside.
Bobby Copass had initially been charged with first-degree arson for the blaze, but the second-degree murder charge was added after the teen died from his severe injuries, according to a statement from the Florissant Police Department.
Police said they received a call Friday around 3 a.m. alerting them to a house fire.
“When officers arrived on scene they observed the residence fully engulfed in flames,” police said in a statement on Facebook.
Authorities soon learned a teenage boy was trapped inside the house. Police tried to enter the home but were “unsuccessful” due to the raging flames.
The Florissant Valley Fire Protection District quickly arrived and was able to rescue the victim from the fire.
“The fire burned very hot and our crews had to navigate holes in the first floor from flames originating in the basement,” the fire department wrote on Facebook.
Fire crews also had to battle icy conditions outside the home.
“It was a very challenging situation but we had great teamwork from all involved,” the fire department said.
The teen—later identified by local station KSDK as Dustin Baggett—was taken to an area hospital in very critical condition, police said.
He later succumbed to his injuries.
Authorities determined during their investigation that the fire had been “intentionally set” by Copass, police said.
An unidentified source close to the investigation told KSDK that Copass had lived in the basement of the home he is accused of setting on fire, but had recently been kicked out of the home. He also was reportedly dating one of the homeowner’s relatives, the station reports.
Neighbors have described the young victim as non-verbal and autistic, KMOV reports.
Copass is being held at the St. Louis County Jail on a $1 million bond, police said.
This isn’t his first run-in with the police. He pleaded guilty in 2004 to felony kidnapping, first-degree assault, first-degree robbery and three counts of armed criminal action, according to KSDK.
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