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Man charged with arson and murder in Chicago fire that killed woman, injured her 12-year-old granddaughter

Man charged in deadly arson fire dated victim's daughter
Man charged in deadly arson fire dated victim's daughter 00:37

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Chicago man is facing arson and murder charges, after police say he threw a Molotov cocktail into a Bridgeport home over the weekend, starting a fire that killed a 54-year-old woman and injuring her 12-year-old granddaughter.

Cordale Nichols, 37, is charged with two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, and one count of aggravated arson in the fire that left 54-year-old Charnette Walker dead in the 3100 block of South Green Street early Saturday.

Cordale Nichols Chicago Police

Police said, around 2:30 a.m. Saturday, he threw a Molotov cocktail through the window of a row home in the 3100 block of South Green Street. He was then seen running north in the alley wearing all black. Police and prosecutors said he was caught on camera throwing the Molotov cocktail through the window.

Cook County prosecutors said Nichols was dating Walker's daughter, and the day before the fire, they got into an argument about the bill for a hotel room they had been staying in.

Nichols' girlfriend told him to leave, and he did, but the two continued arguing over Facebook voice calls and video calls, and Nichols threatened to harm his girlfriend, according to prosecutors. At one point, Nichols asked his girlfriend if she was still at the hotel, but she said she was not.

On Friday night, the girlfriend decided to make up with Nichols, and tried to find him, but couldn't, and went back to the motel.

Prosecutors said Nichols' Ventra card was used on buses and trains headed towards Walker's home on Green Street, and surveillance video from the CTA showed him outside the nearby Red Line stop a short time before the fire.

Surveillance video also recorded Nichols lighting an improvised explosive device on fire and throwing it through the front living room window of Walker's house.

Man charged in deadly arson attack at Bridgeport apartment 00:30

Walker was sleeping in her bedroom directly above the living room at the time, and was unable to escape the blaze. Her 12-year-old granddaughter was sleeping in a second-floor bedroom in the rear of the home, and was able to escape when neighbors placed a mattress below her bedroom window, and she jumped to safety. The girl was taken to the hospital to be treated for burns.

After the fire, investigators confirmed the explosive was made from a 7-Up bottle filled with flammable liquid.

Nichols was arrested near 29th and Halsted Streets about 45 minutes after the fire started. According to a police report, officers noticed a strong smell of gasoline on him when they took him into custody.

At his first court appearance on Monday, a Cook County judge ordered Nichols detained at Cook County Jail while he awaits trial.

Nichols was due back in court on July 3.

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