Updated: Police arrest man in woman's death
Updated 2:41 p.m. Friday.
CHAMPAIGN — Police have arrested a Champaign man in connection with the death of a woman whose body was found in his burned-out Champaign apartment Friday morning.
A release from Champaign police said they are treating the 61-year-old woman’s death as a homicide and arrested Terry J. Brownlee, 31, at a home in the 1200 block of West Hill Street in Urbana.
Court documents say the body of the woman, whose name has not been made public yet, was found under blankets on the couch of a second-floor efficiency apartment at 407 S. State St. When she was pulled out by firefighters she was already deceased and they noted what appeared to be multiple stab wounds, the documents said.
The fire was reported at 6:10 a.m. by a passer-by who saw flames shooting out. Firefighters had it out within minutes. The building is on the northwest corner of State and Healey streets and is just south of the Family Services office.
Investigators from the fire department were joined by Champaign police detectives, and representatives of the coroner’s office and the state fire marshal’s office to determine what happened.
Police have been collecting evidence from the scene to determine if the fire was intentionally set. Police said Brownlee knew the woman and that she appeared to have been stabbed. An autopsy is scheduled for Saturday.
The complex where she was found is called State Street Square and has 18 units. The Champaign County assessor’s website lists the owner as John Roslansky.
Long-time resident Bill Alexander said he lives next door to the apartment where the fire was. He was awakened by firefighters coming up the stairs and could smell smoke.
“I was in a hurry to get the heck out,” Alexander said more than two hours after the fire had been struck.
Alexander said a young man whose name he didn’t know had lived in the burned efficiency only a few weeks.
Champaign fire investigator John Koler said the fire was contained to the single apartment but there was smoke and water damage to other units, especially the one just below.
Emergency support services volunteers were at the complex assisting other residents. A Mass Transit District bus was summoned so that those residents who were out of their apartments could stay warm. Residents of all the apartments but two were allowed back in within an hour, the fire department said.