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Chillicothe man pleads guilty to setting Peoria Planned Parenthood on fire

Tyler W. Massengill, 32, waived his right to be indicted and made his plea on Thursday, Feb. 16.

PEORIA, Ill. — The man accused of setting a Planned Parenthood clinic on fire back in January has pleaded guilty to the charges against him, according to the U.S. States Attorney's Office of the Central District of Illinois. 

Tyler W. Massengill, 32, waived his right to be indicted and made his plea on Thursday, Feb. 16. He was charged with malicious use of fire and faces a mandatory minimum sentence of at least five years. He could face up to 20 years for the crime. 

The charges also carry up to three years of supervised release and a possible fine of up to $250,000. 

The DOJ says Massengil admitted maliciously setting fire to the Planned Parenthood Peoria Health Center on Jan. 15 when he appeared in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan E. Hawley. 

Since his arrest on Jan. 25, Massengill has remained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals. His sentencing is set for July 6. 

The investigation found that at approximately 11:20 p.m. on Jan. 15, an older white pickup truck with red doors was parked in an area adjacent to the clinic. Video evidence shows a man walking up to the building with a "laundry detergent-sized bottle."

The man is shown lighting a rag on fire at one end of the bottle before he smashes a window to place the container inside the clinic. He is then seen leaving the area on foot. 

No patients or staff were inside during the fire, but it caused “significant damage” to the building, said Jennifer Welch, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois in a statement.

The complaint alleges that law enforcement linked Massengill to the truck used in the incident and recovered the truck from an individual in Sparland. That individual was left with a request from Massengill to paint the doors white.

After seizing the truck, investigators met with Massengill on Jan. 24 at the Peoria Police Department and took him into custody. 

The incident occurred two days after Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law reproductive health care legislation to protect out-of-state abortion seekers, adding Illinois to the list of states that have placed legal reinforcements around the procedure after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

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