On the morning of October 19, 2016, firefighters rushed to the Illinois home of a 31-year-old mother and her 3-year-old son to put out a raging fire that had filled the tidy white colonial with thick, black smoke.
Inside, they found Margaret “Maggie” Rosko of Byron, dead on a couch in her living room.
Her young son, Amos Meyer, who had been in an upstairs bedroom, was found on the front lawn with his father, Duane Meyer, 37. Meyer had called 911 to report the fire at his ex-wife’s house, say authorities, outlets including local Rockford station WREX and the Rochelle News-Leader report.
Amos was rushed to a local hospital, where he later died of smoke inhalation.
At first, their deaths seemed like a tragic accident.
Now, nearly three years to the day since the fire stole the lives of the mom who’d spent nearly every waking moment with her little boy, her ex-husband has been arrested in connection with their deaths, Ogle County Sheriff Brian Van Vinkle and Ogle County State’s Attorney Eric Morrow announced at a press conference Wednesday morning.
On Tuesday, an Ogle County grand jury indicted Meyer on seven counts, including four counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated arson and one count concealment of a homicidal death, Van Vinkle announced.
During Meyer’s arrest, he was allegedly found in possession of a loaded gun and was given an additional charge of unlawful use of a weapon, he said.
Meyer is being held on a $10 million bond in Ogle County Jail.
If convicted, “this would be a natural life sentence,” Morrow said.
Meyer was formally advised of the charges against him at his arraignment Wednesday, but he did not enter a plea.
It is unclear if he has retained an attorney who can speak on his behalf.
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The fatal fire took place about a month after Meyer and Rosko divorced, court documents say, the Rockford Register Star reports.
On October 19, 2016, Meyer said he had gone to Rosko’s home at 2020 N. Silverthorn Drive in Byron at 6:40 a.m. to pick up Amos when he called 911 about the fire, local Rockford station WREX reports.
When firefighters arrived, smoke filled the house as smoke alarms blared, SaukValley.com reported at the time.
Meyer was on the front lawn with an officer performing CPR on Amos, the outlet says.
At the time, though, fire department officials said no flames could be seen from outside the home, the Rochelle News-Leader reports.
The Illinois State Fire Marshal official on the scene deemed that the fire was caused by arson, the Rochelle News-Leader reports, as a small fire found in the living room had been intentionally set, officials said.
It is still unclear how Rosko died, but officials determined that she was dead before the fire was started, WREX reports.
After the deaths of the mother and son, the Ogle County Sheriff’s Office, the Illinois Fire Marshal and others including the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and the FBI began what turned out to be a 3-year investigation resulting in more than 35,000 pages of evidence and documents, Morrow said.
As word of the arrest made its way to social media, members of the community expressed their relief and happiness.
“A big THANK YOU to All the folks who cracked this heartbreaking case,” Sandy Taylor wrote on the Ogle County Sheriff’s Facebook page.
A teacher, Rosko earned a Bachelor’s and Master of Science degree from Northern State Illinois University, her obituary says.
“Maggie cherished the role as mother of Amos Patrick,” the obituary reads. “Maggie and Amos were inseparable. Amos was Maggie’s world; there was not a day that they were not together.”
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