URBANA — A Champaign man is in police custody for allegedly trying to burn down the home where his ex-wife resides.

Phillip Gilmore, 51, who listed no permanent address, was charged Thursday with attempted murder, aggravated arson, residential arson and arson for allegedly setting fire to a single-family home in the 1100 block of West Beardsley Avenue about 7:35 p.m. Wednesday while there were people inside.

Judge Ben Dyer set bond at $850,000. Gilmore was also ordered to wear a GPS tracking device if released and return to court July 11.

A Champaign police report said about 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, Gilmore’s ex-wife and her daughter had run into Gilmore at a store on West Springfield Avenue and described him as angry. He allegedly threatened to burn down the house where his ex-wife now lives with another man.

The mother and daughter were able to give police a description of the clothing he was wearing.

About 7:35 p.m., firefighters were called to that house on Beardsley by someone living there to put out a fire that had been started on the outside. Firefighters were able to get the flames doused before the fire could extend to the inside.

Video from the home taken about 90 minutes after Gilmore had allegedly threatened his ex-wife showed a person wearing the same clothing that Gilmore had been wearing in the store running from the side of a house.

The home and a nearby Chevrolet Suburban belonging to the homeowner were both on fire.

In the house were the ex-wife’s boyfriend and his father, the police report said.

The mother and daughter identified Gilmore from the surveillance video as the person running from the house.

Gilmore was arrested within hours and denied any involvement in the fire or even knowing anyone who lived in the area. The ex-wife said Gilmore had previously made threats to burn the house down.

Firefighters said the damage to the home was bad enough to force the occupants to have to live elsewhere.

If convicted of attempted murder or aggravated arson, Gilmore faces at least six to 30 years in prison.

Court records show he has previous convictions for aggravated battery, domestic battery, criminal damage to property and driving under suspension.


Mary Schenk is a reporter covering police, courts and breaking news at The News-Gazette. Her email is mschenk@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@schenk).