Man admits setting fire at ex-girlfriend’s St. Louis County home while family was asleep

Arson News Graphic

A man on Wednesday admitted setting a fire in his ex-girlfriend’s St. Louis County home while she, her daughter, and her aunt all slept.

Christopher Willis, 39, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of maliciously damaging or destroying by means of fire in U.S. District Court in St. Louis. Willis admitted entering his ex-girlfriend’s home on Nero Drive in unincorporated St. Louis County early on the morning of April 29, 2023. He also admitted in his guilty plea that he set fire to some of her clothing in the basement of the home.

Willis’ ex-girlfriend awoke to the sound of a fire alarm and was able to safely escape with her child and her aunt, according to court documents.

As part of the plea agreement, both prosecutors and Willis’ lawyer have agreed to recommend a five-year prison sentence. Willis is scheduled to be sentenced on January 30.

The case was investigated by the St. Louis Regional Bomb and Arson Unit and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Emergency responders from the Black Jack Fire Protection District, the Spanish Lake Fire Protection District, the Florissant Fire Protection District, the Metro-North Fire Protection District, and the Ferguson Fire Department all responded to the scene. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Finlen is prosecuting the case.