A 72-year-old man allegedly set his Delavan house on fire to cover his gambling-related debts.
John Harrison sought an insurance payment to get out of financial problems when he used a candle to ignite the fire that damaged his home last July, according to a Tazewell County grand jury indictment returned Thursday.
An investigation revealed Harrison and his wife appeared to be gambling addicts, a prosecutor’s court affidavit stated. Harrison told police that he and his wife, unable to afford needed home repairs, had been living for some time with relatives and at an Iowa casino.
He faces between probation and seven years in prison if convicted of the arson charge against him. His wife was not charged in the case.
The couple sat in their car the night of July 24 as firefighters doused flames that poured from a window of the home at 402 W. Third St. Harrison told an investigator then that he had come to the house earlier that day to pick up mail and had previously noticed a burnt candle on a box, the affidavit stated.
The investigation revealed Harrison had bought a candle at a Pekin store the day of the fire, the affidavit stated.
Interviewed again in February, Harrison acknowledged he lit a candle in the home to burn it down. He filed an insurance claim the next day, the affidavit stated.
He is free on a personal recognizance bond pending prosecution.