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updated: 7/27/2012 3:50 PM

Prosecutors: Suspect in Lombard arson murder was jealous

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  • Todd Mandoline

      Todd Mandoline

  • Paula Morgan, 24, of Lombard was killed when fire swept through her home. Her former boyfriend, Todd Mandoline of Villa Park, has been charged with arson and murder.

       Paula Morgan, 24, of Lombard was killed when fire swept through her home. Her former boyfriend, Todd Mandoline of Villa Park, has been charged with arson and murder.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

 

The Villa Park man accused of lighting a fire that killed his 24-year-old girlfriend told police he was enraged because he believed she was spending time with another man, according to a recent court filing.

Todd Mandoline, 23, made the statement in a videotaped interview with Lombard police after firefighters pulled Paula Morgan and Jason Cassidy from Morgan's burning home early Sunday.

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Mandoline admitted he shoved paper into the gas tank of Morgan's car and set it ablaze, according to prosecutors. The flames quickly spread to Morgan's house on South Ahrens Avenue in Lombard through an attached garage.

"The defendant said he was 'in a rage' when he suspected Paula was spending time with another man inside her residence," DuPage County prosecutors said in motion seeking to hold him without bond.

Cassidy, 25, of Villa Park, remained hospitalized and in a coma Friday with burns covering nearly 40 percent of his body, authorities said. Morgan died Sunday of smoke inhalation and other fire-related injuries.

The fatal fire broke out about 4 a.m. after a birthday party for Morgan, who would have turned 25 on Monday.

Prosecutors said she had several friends, including Mandoline, over earlier in the night. At some point, Mandoline became angry and began "screaming and lunging" at her, witnesses told police.

Partygoers pulled Mandoline outside and drove him home around 1 a.m. to avoid a fight, according to court records. But within hours, he had walked about two miles back to Morgan's and was watching the party surreptitiously from a neighbor's yard, prosecutors said.

A neighbor who spoke to police also described a man matching Mandoline's description walking back and forth in front of Morgan's house. During this time, Mandoline fired off several text messages to the victim, according to State's Attorney Robert Berlin, who said earlier that the suspect was "set off" when Morgan didn't respond.

Morgan and Mandoline had a dating relationship, prosecutors said.

Morgan's 6-year-old son escaped the fire unharmed and alerted several partygoers asleep in the backyard. Her mother, who also lived there, wasn't home at the time.

Mandoline remains in the county jail without bond and is scheduled for arraignment Aug. 13. He declined a request by the Daily Herald for an interview, a sheriff's official said.

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