District Attorney Jerome Gorman today charged Curtis T. Horn, 37, with one count of premeditated murder, one count of felony murder, arson, and 15 counts of aggravated endangerment of a child in connection with a fatal fire Saturday.
Gorman said Horn, 37, was a resident of Kansas City, Kan. He is being held in the Wyandotte County Jail; bond was set at $1 million.
The fire on Saturday morning near 76th Drive and Garfield killed two persons, Brandi S. Johnson, 34; and Amiyah McClenton, 2. Johnson was the aunt of the child, and was the babysitter.
Horn was in a past boyfriend-girlfriend relationship with Johnson, according to Gorman. The relationship had lasted for five to six months, he said. Neither Horn nor Johnson lived at the apartment complex, he added.
Authorities believe Johnson was killed before the fire was set at the apartment building.
At a news conference today, Gorman with Police Chief Rick Armstrong and Fire Chief John Paul Jones cited cooperation and a team effort between police and fire investigators, and the DA's office.
"Our hearts go out to the victims of this tragedy and to the families that were displaced," Jones said.
The 15 counts of child endangerment were filed because of the other young children in the apartment building who were endangered by the fire, according to Gorman. There was fire damage to other apartments in the building and the fire could have spread, said Police Chief Rick Armstrong.
"It could have been a lot worse than it was," Gorman said.
Jones said a smoke detector went off and alerted a resident, who went through the building, waking residents.
Gorman added he considered capital murder charges, but such charges are very difficult to file in Kansas.
Horn faces life in prison if he is found guilty of premeditated murder.
A court appearance is scheduled on Thursday afternoon.
Horn was previously in the Wyandotte County Jail on minor charges, according to jail records. He was in the jail for disorderly conduct and contempt of court on Jan. 10, 2005; contempt of court on April 13, 2006; a bench warrant and contempt of court on March 23, 2009; contempt of court on July 11, 2011; and contempt of court on Sept. 11, 2012.
Horn is listed in the Missouri state court records as having been charged with trafficking in drugs in the second degree, and entered a guilty plea in October 2000 in Jackson County, Mo. His sentence was suspended and he served community service, according to court documents.
At the site of the apartment building fire this afternoon, a young woman was cleaning some items outdoors.
She said she lived near the apartment where the little girl lived.
"I knew the little girl, she was really cute, she was sweet, not mean to the other children," the resident said.
Her relatives have children who live there, and "We had literally the fire over our heads. We just picked them up and went out," the resident said.
"My niece has severe asthma," the resident said. She was angry about the children being in that situation.
She added the building had no sprinkler systems, just fire extinguishers.