EUREKA, Ill. -- (WGN) -- The mother of a 9-year-old Illinois boy who is charged with murder in connection with a mobile home fire that killed five people says the child is "not a monster."
During interviews Thursday with local and national media organizations, the woman said her son "made a terrible mistake," adding that "he's a child."
The April 6 fire near the central Illinois village of Goodfield, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) southwest of Chicago, killed a 1-year-old, two 2-year-olds, a 34-year-old man and a 69-year-old woman. Woodford County Coroner Tim Ruestman ruled the fire was started intentionally.
The 28-year-old mother says her son suffers from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and ADHD, and takes medication daily.
She says instead of condemning the boy, people should pray that the boy "gets the help he needs."
"He does have a good heart," she said. "He helped feed his brother and sister, helped teach them how to walk. Yes, he should be punished, but he needs mental help, that's what he needs."