Missouri Man Charged with Murder for Setting House on Fire While Teen with Autism Was Inside

Missouri Man Charged with Murder for Setting House on Fire While Teen with Autism Was Inside

A Missouri man has been accused of murder after starting a house fire that killed a boy with autism.

Bobby Copass, 39, was charged with second degree murder on Tuesday following the death of Dustin Baggett, a 16-year-old with autism who suffered critical injuries from a two-alarm blaze last week and later died, according to the Florissant Police Department.

Copass was initially charged with first-degree arson when he was arrested on Friday.

The fatal house fire broke out on Jan. 17 around 3:00 a.m. near the 1900 block of Curtis Court in Florissant, Mo., authorities said.

The Florissant Valley Fire Protection District called the fire “a very challenging situation.”

“The fire burned very hot and our crews had to navigate holes in the first floor from flames originating in the basement,” they said in a Facebook post. “On top of that, we had icy conditions outside.”

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According to police, firefighters were able to pull Baggett out from the blaze and transport him to a local hospital.

Baggett’s great-aunt Patricia Lake told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Baggett suffered smoke inhalation as well as burns to his face, hands and feet. She said Baggett never regained consciousness while in the hospital, and that the family made the decision to remove him from life support and donate his liver and kidneys on Saturday.

She told the outlet Copass, who is a cousin of the Baggett’s stepfather, was living with the boy before the fire.

According to local news station KSDK, Copass had been dating one of the homeowner’s relatives and was recently kicked out of the residence following a disagreement.

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He was captured on surveillance camera returning to the house on Friday, according to the outlet. Video footage showed a fire starting in the basement and Copass walking out of the house later.

Online records show that Copass had previously spent 15 years in prison for felony kidnapping, first-degree assault, first-degree robbery and three counts of armed criminal action.

Copass is currently being held at the St. Louis County Jail on a $1 million bail.

An attorney for Copass could not be immediately identified by PEOPLE.