UPDATE: Police say a 49-year-old Coralville woman charged with first-degree murder set a fire that left an Iowa City West High School freshman dead.
Coralville police on Wednesday arrested Lillie Will Williams, who lives a couple of blocks from where Raymone Bryant, 14, died in a fire on Sept. 4. Two people also were taken to University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics for treatment and released.
The home where the fire occurred was occupied by Williams’ cousin and her cousin’s husband, according to a criminal complaint.
In court Thursday morning, Lillie Williams told the judge she was innocent. She said the charge is “all false information.”
21-year-old Kavier Williams,Lillie’s daughter and Ramone Bryant’s cousin, says her mom’s arrest only adds to the anguish over Ramone’s death. Williams insists her mother is innocent.
Police said Williams knew people were inside the home at 720 11th Ave. when she intentionally set the fire. At the time of the blaze, authorities said five people were living in the duplex.
In a news release, police said a witness had identified Williams as the one who set the fire.
Police said Williams, who was being held on $1 million bond Wednesday night at the Johnson County Jail, will make an initial appearance Thursday at 8 a.m. at the Johnson County Courthouse.
Bryant had just begun his freshman year at Iowa City West High School. According to an obituary that ran in The Gazette, Bryant ran track at Northwest Junior High and also loved football, basketball, camping and fishing. He had helped with the reconstruction of L&J BBQ House in Iowa City, where he also worked.
After the fire, neighbor Richard Callahan said Bryant was pretty active in the community.
“I saw them going back and forth to school and they were always playing basketball,” he said.
Classmate Alexis Posey said Bryant had a lot of friends and family.
Wednesday night, neighbors declined to comment about the case. Orange fencing remains around the fire scene, and heavy damage is still apparent. The front door is also boarded over and it was unclear where the duplex’s residents are currently living.
Police said charges resulted from an investigation by the Coralville Police and Fire Departments, agents from the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Division of Criminal Investigation, the Division of Criminal Investigation Crime Scene team and the Johnson County Attorney’s Office.