Man Suspected of Setting Fire Killing Woman, Badly Burning 2 Children Dies

Nathaniel Beller was found critically burned; Fire killed his girlfriend, two children

Monday, Dec 31, 2012  |  Updated 10:31 AM CDT
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Suspected Arsonist Dies Day After Fire

The 29-year-old man who police said was the suspect in setting a fire that killed his girlfriend and critically injured their two children died at Stroger Hospital Sunday afternoon.

Police said the man who was found, critically burned, outside the home on the 4200 block of West 21st Place possibly had doused his girlfriend and the two children with an accelerant before setting them on fire early Saturday morning.

The children, Nariya Beller, 4, and Naciere Beller, 9, remained in critical condition Sunday at Stroger, said Marisa Kollias, Stroger Hospital spokeswoman. Fire officials said Nariya was burned over her entire body and Naciere suffered burns on 35 percent of his.

Their mother, Taniya Johnson, 33, died at Stroger Hospital Saturday following the early morning blaze inside the first floor unit of a building on the 4200 block of West 21st Place. A Sunday autopsy determined Johnson was attacked with an accelerant and died from the fire and multiple stab wounds, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office, which added that her death was officially ruled a homicide.

Nathaniel Beller died at 12:10 p.m. Sunday, said Kollias and a representative from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

Police sources said they believe an accelerant was used to intentionally set the fire and that Beller doused the victims. Police found three gas cans behind the West Side home.

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