Excerpts from dnainfochicago.com:

The man who set a southside Chicago fire that killed three children and a man did so because he paid a woman $10 for sex that he didn’t receive, according to prosecutors.

Reginald Hester, 51, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated arson, accused of setting fire to a large apartment complex on Aug. 23. He was ordered held without bail Wednesday.

A 7-year-old girl, a 4-year-old girl, a 3-month-old girl and a 56-year-old man died in the fire.

Around midnight on Aug. 23, Hester was walking down the street near the apartment building in the 8100 block of South Essex Avenue when he offered a woman $10 for sex, said Cook County prosecutor Becky Walters. The woman agreed, and the two walked to her apartment in the building that was later set ablaze. She went inside her place to get condoms but never returned to Hester, Walters said.

Hester was left near a rear porch that held cardboard boxes, a couch, a grill and lighter fluid. He is accused of setting a fire near the rear porch and in an interior stairway of the apartment complex, Walters said.

A witness in the building smelled smoke, looked out her window and saw Hester walking away from the building in a red sweater. He was wearing the same clothes witnesses saw him in and smelled of smoke, she said.

With help from two witnesses, police picked up Hester in the 7600 block of South Shore Drive at 7:15 a.m. the day of the fire, but he was released pending further investigation.

Hester, who has has five prior felonies, was picked up by officers Monday in the first block of North Waller Avenue. During his second time in police custody, Hester admitted to detectives that he started the fire. He told officers he started the fire because “he was pissed and wanted to scare that b—-.”


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