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Ex-husband/father charged in death of Byron mother, son

The father of the child who died in a Byron house fire three years ago has pleaded not guilty to charges he killed his ex-wife and their 3-year-old son and set their house on fire.

Margaret “Maggie” Meyer, 31, was found dead on a couch on the first floor of her burning home at 2020 N. Silverthorn Drive on Oct. 19, 2016, and her 3-year-old son, Amos, was pronounced dead a short time later at a Rockford hospital.

Duane "D.C." Meyer, 37, of Byron, who was arrested at 6 this morning, Tuesday was indicted by an Ogle County grand jury on four counts of first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison, two counts of aggravated arson and one count of concealment of a homicidal death, Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle said in a news conference on Wednesday

At the time of his arrest, he also had a loaded firearm and was charged with unlawful use of a weapon, VanVickle said.

Meyer, who is being held on $10 million bond, will have a bond reduction hearing Oct. 16. Rockford attorney Christopher A. DeRango is representing him.

Meyer reported the fire, around 6:40 a.m. that morning. He told officials he was there to pick up his son. The couple had divorced about a month earlier. Ogle County Court records show she filed for the dissolution in November 2014 and the divorce was granted on Sept. 8, 2016.

When firefighters arrived, smoke alarms were sounding, the house was filled with heavy smoke, and Meyer and a Byron police officer were on the lawn performing CPR on Amos, who had been in an upstairs bedroom.

Amos and his father were taken to then-Rockford Memorial Hospital, where the boy was pronounced dead. An autopsy showed he died of smoke inhalation.

Authorities have declined to reveal the cause of Maggie Meyer’s death, although they said pathologists have determined it. They also have not said how the fire started.

A representative from the State Fire Marshal’s Office determined the fire was an arson while he was at the scene.

Maggie, the daughter of Donald and Luann Rosko, of Mt. Morris, was a teacher at the Chana Educational Center.

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