Two men accused of starting an apartment fire in Cicero that killed seven people were recorded on audio tapes discussing the crime, according to prosecutors.
The apparent motive: insurance money.
Landlord Lawrence Myers and his maintenance man, Marion Comier, were charged Thursday with seven counts of first-degree murder and arson relating to the Valentine’s Day blaze at 3034 S. 48th Court in Cicero.
Police were tipped off to the plot by three witnesses who heard the two men discussing the crime before the fire was set.
After the blaze, the witnesses called police. Authorities then placed recording devices on one or more of the witnesses, who recorded Myers and Comier, on separate occasions, talking about what they had done.
"I had my mitts in it if that's what you want to hear," Comier said.
Comier also explained how he set the blaze.
"I did it different, I put oil on it ... They couldn't smell it because of the oil," Comier said, explaining that he started the blaze on a couch in an empty unit on the rear of the first floor.
"I dumped it on there, threw a match and that was it," Comier said. "I thought this shit out."
Comier was also recorded complaining that he wasn’t getting paid enough for torching the apartment. He demanded $15,000 from Myers, but Myers would only agree to $3,000.
As for Myers -- a former Navy enlisted man who was honorably discharged in 1972 -- investigators say he was having trouble with the IRS, and that he owed money on a mortgage on an apartment building in Wisconsin, hinting at a possible motive for what officials call the “worst fire in Cicero history.”
Myers was recorded saying that Comier made a mistake in starting the fire when people were home.
"It was done at wrong time. Stupid.. I didn't want him to hurt anyone," Myers said.
Earlier Friday morning, Myers denied involvement in the crime that killed seven people, including a days-old infant.
“Of course I am (denying it),” Lawrence Myers told NBC 5. “Who in the hell would kill a baby?”
Comier began crying as police walked him from the jail to a squad car to go to an arraignment hearing.
The men will be tried in the deaths of Sallie Gist, 18; Gist's two children, Rayshawn Reed, 3, and newborn Byron Reed; her twin siblings, Elisha and Elijah Gist, 16; her boyfriend, Byron Reed, 20, and family friend Tiera Davidson, 19.