CHICAGO (CBS) — A 44-year-old woman has been charged with arson and murder, for allegedly setting a fire that forced another woman to jump from the window of a Rogers Park apartment building earlier this week.
Chicago police said Margaret Reed, of the 2100 block of West Foster Avenue, has been charged with two felony counts of murder and one felony count of aggravated arson.
Reed was arrested late Tuesday night, after she was identified as the person who set fire to the back porch of a four-story apartment building near Clark and Touhy around 5:30 a.m. Tuesday. She was due to appear for a bond hearing Friday at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.
Police did not say what Reed’s motive was for setting the fire.
A neighbor captured cell phone video about 50 feet from the flames that tore through a Rogers Park apartment building.
Another neighbor, further away, caught another video of smoke billowing from the roof as firefighters worked to control the blaze in the 15-unit building.
The flames quickly spread to the inside of the building, trapping 51-year-old Maria Silva on the top floor. Silva jumped from her window to escape the flames, and died later that morning at the hospital.
Maria Rios tried to talk Silva out of jumping.
“I see her in the window, and then I say ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it,’ but then she fall down,” she said.
Many others might have died if not for Rios, who ran through the entire 15-unit building, pounding on the doors of every apartment, warning people to get out.
“Screaming, only. I say ‘Get out, get out, it’s on fire,’” she said.
Luis Padilla said Rios saved his life, and those of four of his family members.
“I really want to thank her really much. If she didn’t woke up first, and then woke us up first, then we were just going to suffer inside with all the smoke,” he said.
Humberto Sanchez said he, too, owes his life to Rios, who ran into the burning building while others were running out.
“I want to say that I’m very grateful, because if it wasn’t for her, I probably wouldn’t be able to wake up, because I couldn’t hear the smoke alarms. So I just could hear her voice knocking on the doors, saying ‘There’s a fire, there’s a fire,’” he said.
One other person injured in the fire was taken to Weiss Memorial Hospital in fair to serious condition.