Morrison woman dies in fire; 2 teens in custody

Charges could come Monday, authorities say

MORRISON – Two juveniles are in custody in connection with a house fire that claimed the life of a Morrison woman Saturday.

Morrison police and firefighters and Whiteside County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the fire at 805 W. Park St. at 1:08 p.m., according to a news release from Morrison Police Chief Brian Melton.

When firefighters entered the home, they found Peggy S. Schroeder, 53, inside. She was pronounced dead at the scene by the Whiteside County Coroner’s office.

Police said charges are pending against two 15-year-old girls who were taken into custody at about 2 a.m. Sunday.

“We aren’t releasing any more information about the pending charges yet, because this is still a very active investigation,” Melton said.

Police said one of the girls is from Morrison, and the other is from Rock Falls. Melton declined to comment about whether the girls knew the victim. He did say police believe no one else will be apprehended in the incident.

“They are in custody, and hopefully, they will be formally charged by Monday afternoon,” Melton said.

This is the second house fire in Morrison in less than a month that authorities are investigating.

No one was hurt in a fire at Brent and Angel Richmond’s home at 410 S. Grape St. in Morrison on June 11, but the Richmonds and their three children were burned out of their home. That fire is being investigated as possible arson.

Morrison Police also are investigating a series of burglary break-ins and car fires that took place June 30. At least 25 unlocked vehicles were broken into early that day, and fires were set in three of them, two of which caused significant damage. Police said at the time that they think the break-ins are related to another spree of vehicle burglaries that took place June 10 and 11.

Whiteside County Sheriff’s Lt. John Booker said there is no evidence to link any of the incidents.

“There’s no reason to believe this is related to the other fires,” Booker said. “This investigation isn’t headed in that direction.”

Early Sunday evening, Melton confirmed Booker’s statement about the investigations.

“There has been a lot of speculation about these investigations being related, and they are not,” Melton said.

The Whiteside County Coroner’s Office, state fire marshal, State Police Crime Scene Investigations Unit, Bureau County Sheriff’s Office, Morrison Fire Department, and Sterling and Prophetstown and police departments are assisting in the investigation into Saturday’s fire.

Booker said that because of the nature of the investigation, it is normal protocol for police to bring in more manpower.

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