Sunday, May 01, 2016

2 Charged In Fire That Ripped 126-Year-Old Boystown Home

Inset: Handzel (top) and Williams (Chicago Police Dept/Cook Co. Sheriff's Office)

A man and a transgender woman have been charged in connection with a fire that gutted the second floor of a 126-year-old Boystown home last Sunday. Both are free on bond.

Witnesses told police that they saw Keith L. Williams, 23, and Ryan Handzel, 20, walk out of the abandoned home at 651 W. Aldine moments before flames appeared from its second floor around 6PM on April 24, according to court records.

Both admitted to being inside the building before the fire was discovered, police said.

Williams and Handzel were arrested on the scene and each has been charged with three counts of criminal damage to property and one count of criminal trespass.

Molten tar fell from the burning home onto nearby cars, leading to two of the criminal damage counts,  according to witnesses and a police report.

The third damage charge alleges that the duo “recklessly by means of fire” damaged the home itself.

Brat Williams

Williams, who lists the Howard Brown Health Center as her home address, was the star of a CWB Chicago story in October 2014 after she managed to get arrested twice and victimized once on Halsted Street in a single week.

Aside from that notable week, Williams has racked up a series of other arrests in our neighborhood. According to court and police records, criminal charges filed against her in our neighborhood include:

• An April 2012 charge of aggravated unlawful use of a knife in the 800 block of Aldine, which ended with a sentence of 3 months probation and “destruction” of the knife.

• Shoplifting at the Boystown Jewel-Osco store in September 2012, which earned 1 year’s probation.

• Obstructing traffic outside of the Broadway Youth Center, 3179 N. Broadway, in September 2012.

• Criminal trespass at the Center on Halsted in February 2013. The charge was thrown out when the Center—per its policy —failed to show up in court.

• Battery at the Center on Halsted in September 2014. Again, the charge was thrown out when the Center failed to show up in court.

• Theft at the Forever Yogurt, 3510 N. Halsted, in September 2014

• Battery in the 3500 block of N. Halsted in August 2015. The charges were dropped when the witness did not appear in court.

Handzel, who did not list a home address but hails from Crystal Lake, has no previous arrests in Cook County, records show.
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