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Ohio man allegedly stabbed 2 to death, set Rogers Park apartment on fire

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A judge has denied bond for an Ohio man charged with killing his new Chicago roommates, setting them on fire and stealing their credit cards.

The suspect, 24-year-old DeJuan Pratt, is from Columbus, Ohio. Wednesday, he faced a judge on aggravated arson, armed robbery, first-degree murder and identity theft charges.

The incident happened at the end of August in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood.

Prosecutors say Pratt stabbed his new roommates, Gary Brown, 64, and 48-year-old Cathie Lee. Investigators say Pratt set fire to the apartment in the 6400-block of North Sacramento Avenue to cover his tracks and that he took off with the victims' credit cards and the female victim's vehicle.

Police arrested Pratt with that vehicle Monday at O'Hare Airport while, they say, he was trying to flee.

The victims' bodies were discovered wrapped in blankets.

One neighbor who knew Lee said she was relieved a suspect was in custody.

"I see her all the time, and [we] talk. A sweet woman, very sweet woman," said Lai Ly.

Brown was a former minor league baseball player, and more recently, a prosecutor in Kankakee. It appears he had fallen on hard times, battled alcoholism, lived at the Salvation Army, and then got a job at the Howard Area Employment Resource Center, where a memorial and a collage have been dedicated to him.

The center is also where Brown met Lee. Manager Charles Hardwick says just a week before the murders, he saw Brown interviewing Pratt at the center to be a third roommate.

"I always thought it had to be an insider," Hardwick said. "As far as street stuff goes, that's not Gary. I thought it had to be an insider.'

Pratt is charged with 10 felonies.

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