The mother of a nine-year-old boy, Katrina Alwood, accused of murdering five members of their family by allegedly setting them ablaze, has said that her son is “not a monster”.
Ms Alwood said Kyle, who has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, two counts of arson and one count of aggravated arson, was recently diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and ADHD.
She told journalists that, “Everyone is looking at him like he is some kind of monster, but that is not who he is. People make mistakes and that is what this is.
“Yes, it was a horrible tragedy, but it is still not something to throw his life away over.”
Kyle is accused of killing his two half-siblings, one-year-old Ariel and two-year-old Daemeon Wall, cousin Rose Alwood, who was two, and his stepfather Jason Wall, 34.
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He is also accused of killing the children’s maternal great-grandmother Kathryn Murray, 69.
The fire happened in a caravan at Timberline Mobile Home Park in central Illinois on 6 April, with a county coroner since ruling that it was started deliberately.
All five victims died of smoke inhalation inside the vehicle.
Ms Alwood, who was engaged to Mr Wall, recounted the moment she saw it going up in flames.
She said she told the children and Mr Wall that she “loved them” as she stood at the window, and that she was sorry that nothing could be done to save them.
But she said she loved her son “no matter what”, despite calls from her sister for Kyle to be sent to a youth detention centre and then prison.
Samantha Alwood said Kyle, who is her nephew, “knew what fire did” and should be sentenced accordingly.
An online obituary has been set up for her daughter Rose, who “loved to sit on her grandpa’s lap and watch football, and loved fixing things with her special papa Mike”.
Obituaries have also been set up for the other children who died, as well as US Army veteran Mr Wall.
US media reports that Kyle, who was eight at the time of the fire, is the youngest child to have been accused of a mass killing for at least 13 years.
Kyle has not yet been detained by the authorities and is staying with relatives at an unknown location due to death threats, ahead of a court appearance on 21 October.
If convicted, the nine-year-old would likely face five years’ probation and would receive counselling.