Ellis Library fire suspect charged with burglary, arson

Tuesday, October 4, 2011 | 12:11 p.m. CDT; updated 5:08 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, October 4, 2011

COLUMBIA — At least 10 separate fires were burning when first responders entered Ellis Library in the early hours of Sept. 10, according to a probable cause statement filed in the 13th Circuit Court for Boone County on Friday by the Boone County prosecuting attorney's office.

Christopher Curtis Kelley, 25, has been charged with second-degree burglary and second-degree arson in connection with the  fires.


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The likely accelerant used for the fire was a product used for polishing brass, according to the statement signed by MU police detective Michael Laughlin.

Ellis staff estimated total damage to the library at $600,000 to $1 million.

Among the details disclosed by the probable cause statement:

  • A window to the library's copy service office was the likely point of entry.
  • A container of Parks Brass Refurbisher was found lying in the mulch just outside the window, and Assistant Fire Marshal Lt. Debbie Sorrell said the product could be used as an accelerant.
  • Cameras and a sprinkler head appear to have been intentionally damaged.
  • Human feces and urine were found on top of one of the study desks on level 4 East.
  • A note written in black marker was found atop a printer in the Access Services offices that read: "WELCOME TO THE BUNGHOLE — WE GOT FUN AND GAMES."

Kelley waived his formal arraignment and pleaded not guilty. His first court appearance has not been scheduled.

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