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Arsonist torches sex offender's house

5-10-2005 Illinois:
.McHenry County authorities are investigating whether someone deliberately set fire to the home of a Wonder Lake man last weekend because he is a convicted sex offender. Investigators said they found gasoline cans near the front porch of the small box-shaped house on Maplewood Drive and believe the fire was set with an accelerant.

The owner of the home, Eric Velmers, 35, a former youth soccer league coach, returned home shortly after midnight Friday after being gone all day, authorities said. He had left his doors unlocked, as was typical, they said. The fire was reported about 9:30 p.m. by neighbors who heard an explosion. The home was destroyed.

"He made statements to us that he's a sex offender and nobody likes sex offenders, but he could not give us any help in regard to specific suspects," Lt. Donald Carlson of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department said Tuesday. Authorities said Velmers is not a suspect. Velmers was convicted in McHenry County in 1999 of a misdemeanor child-sex offense with a 13-year-old boy. He was placed on probation for two years and ordered to register as a child-sex offender for 10 years. ..more.. : by Carolyn Starks, Tribune staff reporter

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