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posted: 8/8/2012 1:14 PM

Villa Park man formally charged with Lombard arson murder

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  • Todd Mandoline

      Todd Mandoline

  • The scene of the fire last month on the 1000 block of South Ahrens Avenue in Lombard that killed Paula Morgan and critically injured Jason Cassidy.

       The scene of the fire last month on the 1000 block of South Ahrens Avenue in Lombard that killed Paula Morgan and critically injured Jason Cassidy.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer


A DuPage County grand jury has formally charged a Villa Park man with setting a fire that killed his former girlfriend last month on the eve of her 25th birthday.

Todd Mandoline, 23, of the 200 block of Terry Lane, was indicted on four counts of first-degree murder, three counts of aggravated arson, and one count of criminal damage to property, according to court records released Wednesday.

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The charges accuse Mandoline of lighting the July 22 blaze that killed Paula Morgan of Lombard, killed her dog Spencer, and left 25-year-old Jason Cassidy of Villa Park critically injured.

Public Defender Jeff York, whose office represents Mandoline, declined to comment on the indictment. But a recent court filing by the defense says Mandoline "demands to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the allegations."

Morgan perished in the early morning fire after celebrating her upcoming birthday with a party at her home on South Ahrens Avenue. Prosecutors said Mandoline had a dating relationship with the victim and became enraged when he believed she was spending time with another man inside her home.

Mandoline told police he used a piece of paper and a lighter to ignite the gas tank on Morgan's car, prosecutors said. Flames quickly engulfed the vehicle, then spread to Morgan's home through an attached garage.

Prosecutors said Cassidy -- a friend of Morgan's inside the home with her -- suffered burns to nearly 40 percent of his body. Morgan died of smoke inhalation and related injuries, while her 6-year-old son managed to escape unharmed.

Mandoline is being held without bond and is scheduled to appear Monday before Judge John Kinsella.

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