UPDATE: Chillicothe man charged in federal court in connection with Planned Parenthood arson

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 8:34 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2023 at 4:11 PM CST
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - A Chillicothe man accused of putting a Molotov cocktail at the Peoria Planned Parenthood clinic is now facing federal charges.

Tyler W Massengill, 32, has been charged by criminal complaint with malicious use of fire and an explosive to damage and attempt to damage a place of interstate commerce.

If convicted of the malicious use of fire charge, Massengill faces a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment of at least five years and could receive up to 40 years in prison. The charges also carry up to three years of supervised release and a possible fine of up to $250,000.

Massengill appeared virtually from Peoria County jail before Federal Judge Eric Long of Urbana. Massengill will remain in jail until his detention hearing next week before Peoria-area Judge Johnathan Hawley.

Judge Long informed Massengill of his right to remain silent and his right to an attorney, Massengill said Illinois Right to Life will provide defense attorneys for him. 25News confirmed with IRL they do not provide legal counsel and have received no communication from Massengill or his family.

The criminal complaint filed to the court shows multiple agencies apprehended Massengill through the use of tips and video surveillance.

FBI Counterterrorism Special Agent Ronald Stout reports in the complaint law enforcement was advised of a white pickup truck with a red door. They provided those images to the public, where Massengill saw his truck on the news. He left his truck in a friend’s garage in Sparland, requesting they paint his red doors white for $300.

“’I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it,’” he wrote in a message to a friend on Facebook. The friend’s name wasn’t disclosed in the criminal complaint.

The Planned Parenthood clinic provided security footage from that night. According to the complaint, video footage depicts a man walking up to the building with a laundry detergent-sized bottle, lighting a rag on fire on one end of the bottle, smashing a window with an object, and then placing the container inside the building, quickly leaving the area on foot.

Law enforcement located his truck. On January 24, Massengill called Peoria Police to talk about the incident. According to the complaint, he initially denied involvement, saying he had loaned the truck to two men. Eventually, he said a former partner had gotten pregnant and chose to terminate the pregnancy. He confessed to police that the memory drove him to start the fire at the clinic.

Massengill is innocent until proven guilty.

Tyler Massengill
Tyler Massengill(Department of Justice criminal complaint)
Tyler Massengill
Tyler Massengill(Peoria County Sheriff's Office)

The FBI, Peoria Police Department, ATF, and Peoria Fire Department have participated in this investigation.

Planned Parenthood estimates the cost to rebuild at over $1 million.

They released a statement in the wake of the arrest:

“We are pleased an arrest has been made of the domestic terrorist who fire bombed the Peoria Planned Parenthood Health Center on January 15. We intend to pursue charges to the fullest extent of the law. The damage to the health center is extensive and we are estimating it costing over $1M to rebuild. The repairs will take numerous months before we can reopen stronger than ever.

This senseless act of vandalism has robbed the community of access to birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and gender-affirming care as well as medication abortion services. We appreciate the outpouring of support from the community, state, and nation as we continue to meet our patients’ needs through telehealth and at our other 16 health centers across the state.

Planned Parenthood

The fire happened at the office on Knoxville late on January 15th. Firefighters and paramedics responded around 12:15 a.m., finding flames and smoke coming out of a front window. After putting it out, firefighters searched the building and found no one inside, but a firefighter was taken to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. Total damages are estimated at around $150,000.

Planned Parenthood officials add that they are actively working on rescheduling patients to a health center of their choice or a telehealth visit. They are also offering transportation assistance for those who need it. The closest health center is in Bloomington.

UPDATE 11:04 A.M. - The Peoria Police Department report number used in this incident and the same report number used in Wednesday’s Peoria County commitment report indicate a Chillicothe man arrested in connection with this incident.

Tyler W. Massengill, 32, was arrested by Peoria Police and booked late Tuesday night on a preliminary charge of aggravated arson.

PEORIA (25 News Now) - The FBI Springfield Office confirms to 25News that a person is in custody in connection with an arson earlier this month at the Planned Parenthood Health Center in Peoria.

The fire happened at the office on Knoxville late on January 15th. Firefighters and paramedics responded around 12:15 a.m., finding flames and smoke coming out of a front window. After putting it out, firefighters searched the building and found no one inside, but a firefighter was taken to the hospital for non-life threatening injuries. Total damages are estimated at around $150,000.

Planned Parenthood officials add that they are actively working on rescheduling patients to a health center of their choice or a telehealth visit. They are also offering transportation assistance for those who need it. The closest health center is in Bloomington.

In a statement to 25News, the FBI Springfield office says they will file a complaint on Wednesday to formally arrest the unnamed male subject on federal charges. The name of the subject in custody is not being released at this time,