Ellis Library fire suspect indicted on federal charges

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 | 6:29 p.m. CDT; updated 1:08 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 4, 2012

COLUMBIA — The Columbia man suspected of setting fires last year at MU's Ellis Library and in a building on the campus of Stephens College has been federally indicted in connection with both incidents.

Christopher C. Kelley was indicted in U.S. District Court June 27 on two counts of arson: one for the Ellis Library fire on Sept. 10, 2011, which caused an estimated $600,000 to $1 million in damage, and a second for the May 18, 2011, fire at 1400 Windsor St., on Stephens' campus. According to the Stephens College website, that's the location of Stephens College Children's School.

Kelley was charged under a section of the federal code that designates penalties for burning any buildings used for interstate commerce. He could serve up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

He still has a misdemeanor theft charge pending against him in Boone County Circuit Court in connection with a shoplifting incident.

Kelley pleaded not guilty to the federal charges. He was released on bond on Tuesday. His bond did not include any monetary conditions. His trial was scheduled for Sept. 17.

Ellis Library was closed for several days as a result of September's fire. Most of the damage was confined to the library's circulation area, though the State Historical Society of Missouri sustained water damage. When responders first arrived at Ellis Library, 10 separate fires were burning. Kelley turned himself in to MU police after a Clery release was issued. 

Supervising editor is Katherine Reed

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