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Man charged with murder accused of beating, burning girlfriend in Englewood home

Police officers and firefighters respond about midnight Thursday, July 12, 2018 to a fire in the 1300 block of West 57th Street. | Justin Jackson/ Sun-Times

A man accused of killing his girlfriend by beating her and setting her home on fire was ordered held without bail Friday.

Wess Arnold, 35, of Waukegan, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Ta’anda Hall, whose body was found following a July apartment fire in the Englewood neighborhood, according to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

Arnold was the last person Hall was seen alive with and was seen leaving the apartment shortly before the fire was reported, Assistant State’s Attorney Jamie Santini said during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

Emergency crews responded shortly after midnight July 12 to Hall’s second-floor apartment in the 1300 block of West 57th Street, according to the Chicago Fire Department and Cook County medical examiner’s office. Hall was found dead inside the bedroom.

Wess Arnold | Chicago police
Wess Arnold | Chicago police

An autopsy found she died of multiple injuries in an assault, with thermal injuries and carbon monoxide poisoning listed as the secondary cause of death, the medical examiner’s office said. Her death was ruled a homicide.

Arnold, Hall and two others were at the apartment the night before drinking and playing cards, Santini said. During the night, Arnold “was acting controlling, jealous and was constantly arguing” with Hall, who he was in a relationship with.

The two other people left the apartment about 11 p.m. and one of the people asked Hall if they could borrow some money, Santini said. Hall agreed and Arnold “became very irate” because she was willing to loan the person the money. Hall went to get the money, but found it was missing. Arnold then had the two witnesses leave the apartment, Santini said.

At some point, Hall was severely beaten to the point where her jaw became unhinged and she suffered “massive blunt force trauma” to her head, Santini said. An examination by the medical examiner’s office found she possibly suffered a broken neck as well, Santini said.

Arnold was recorded leaving the apartment at 11:49 p.m. through the back door, Santini said. He allegedly returned At 11:55 p.m. with clothing draped over his head and shoulders. The fire was reported 11 minutes later.

Arnold was taken into custody Wednesday in north suburban Waukegan, according to Chicago police records.

Judge David Navarro ordered Arnold held without bail. His next court date was scheduled for Sept. 19.