CRIME

Grandson Charged With Homicide, Arson In Death Of 74-Year-Old Man

Jan 11, 2020, 9:58 AM | Updated: 11:10 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A Utah man has been charged with murder and arson after police said he killed his grandfather and then started his house on fire to cover his tracks.

The man, identified as 28-year-old Maxwell Wolcott, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on charges of murder, aggravated arson, aggravated burglary, desecration of a body and obstruction of justice.

Crews from the Salt Lake City Fire Department responded to the home at 717 East Logan Avenue, about four blocks south of Liberty Park, around 7 a.m. Friday.

Neighbors called 911 emergency dispatchers after seeing the flames. They told officials the homeowner was not accounted for.

“They reported an elderly male. Firefighters did a quick knock of the fire externally and then made entry into the home for an internal search,” said Captain Anthony Burton.

Crews found the body of 74-year-old John Peel inside the home. Officials said the cause of the fire was obviously suspicious.

According to the probably cause statement from the Salt Lake City Police Department said Peel was found with a knife stab wound in the chest.

At that point, Det. Greg Wilking said police took over the investigation.

Police found surveillance video that showed Wolcott’s vehicle leaving the home. When questioned, police said Wolcott admitted to going to his grandfather’s house with the intent to kill Peel.

Officials said Wolcott then drove away and came back to the home, doused his grandfather with lighter fluid and lit the fire.

Det. Wilking said quick-thinking firefighters were able to save enough evidence that police could make a case against Wolcott.

“(Crews were) vigorously fighting that fire, (but) they were able to preserve a scene that led to the discovery of the homicide,” Wilking said.

It wasn’t the first time Wolcott has had trouble with police. He pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in 2010, possession of alcohol by a minor in 2011, and unlawful consumption by a minor in 2012.

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Grandson Charged With Homicide, Arson In Death Of 74-Year-Old Man