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Alvarez launches investigation after Sun-Times story of arson tragedy

Nathaniel Beller

Nathaniel Beller

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Updated: February 5, 2013 6:39AM

Saying she has “serious questions and concerns” about her office’s handling of the Nathaniel Beller arson tragedy, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has launched an internal investigation.

Hours after the Chicago Sun-Times revealed Thursday that Beller wasn’t charged with any crime after he threatened to burn his children to death during a tense standoff with Cicero Police in September, Alvarez issued a statement promising a “complete review” of the case.

The review will examine why Beller was freed so soon after the September incident, allowing him to allegedly follow through on his threat at his mom’s West Side home early Saturday. Beller poured accelerant on his girlfriend and two kids before lighting a fire that took his own life and also killed Taniya Johnson, 33, and their daughter Nariyah, 4, Chicago Police say.

He likely wouldn’t have been free to set the blaze if he had been prosecuted in the earlier case.

The State’s Attorney’s office rejected a request from Cicero Police to file felony charges even though a police report said that Beller had filled his bathtub with gasoline and told a lieutenant he would kill both kids if they tried to enter his home.

In her statement released Thursday evening, Alvarez described the case as a “horrific tragedy involving the extremely complicated and challenging crime of domestic violence and the troubling and increasing prevalence of mental illness in criminal defendants.

“We are carefully reviewing how police, prosecutors and child welfare agencies responded,” she added. “This matter will be reviewed in its entirety and if individuals in this office need to be held accountable for their judgment that will certainly occur.”

Beller’s 9-year-old son, Naciere, remained in critical condition Thursday, with burns covering more than a third of his little body.

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