2 teens plead guilty to arson in fire that destroyed Pheasant Run Resort
Two boys pleaded guilty to felony arson Wednesday for starting a May 2022 fire that heavily damaged the shuttered Pheasant Run Resort.
"Well, boys, you really screwed up. But what's done is done. And all we can do is move forward," DuPage County Judge Anthony Coco told the 17-year-old from Carol Stream and a 15-year-old from Wheaton.
Two other boys - a 15-year-old from Winfield and a 14-year-old from Carol Stream - pleaded guilty to misdemeanor trespassing.
All the youths will be sentenced on April 19.
The two guilty of arson face punishment ranging from 18 months of probation and being made wards of the state to imprisonment in a youth prison until their 21st birthdays. They also will be listed for a decade on a state arson registry.
The two guilty of trespassing could be sentenced to court supervision or up to 30 days in a county juvenile detention center.
The boys are cousins.
According to the charges, the 17-year-old drove them all to the resort on May 21, 2022. The Wheaton boy then set papers on fire in a bathtub at 4:24 p.m. Another fire was set nearby.
Assistant State's Attorney Alyssa Rabulinski said Wednesday that it is possible the boys also set other fires in the building. She said fire investigators were prevented from examining much of the scene, including the main building, due to safety concerns and the extensive damage.
The fire destroyed the main lobby, the Bourbon Street hospitality area and the A, B and E wings of hotel rooms.
Videos taken by the boys during the weeks before the fire show them throwing furniture out of windows on the upper floors of a 14-story room tower. The videos also revealed graffiti throughout the interior.
The Wheaton boy made videos of the fires and the building burning. He then posted them on Snapchat and TikTok. Another video of the boys lounging at one of their homes included this caption: "After burning down the town, will we have peaceful sleep? Will the firefighters be able to stop it (the fire)?"
Pheasant Run Resort opened in 1963 and became a legendary destination until it closed in early 2020. It had a golf course, banquet rooms, boutiques, a convention hall, a salon, a theater, an indoor-outdoor swimming pool and a Zanies comedy club.
Some smaller fire-damaged buildings have been razed, but the 14-story tower still stands.