Chillicothe man charged with clinic arson

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Tyler Massengill of Chillicothe told investigators it was “worth it” if it delayed services at the Planned Parenthood clinic.

Tyler Massengill of Chillicothe was arrested on charges of malicious use of fire and an explosive to damage, and attempt to damage the Peoria Planned Parenthood building, the FBI said on Wednesday.

According to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice, video from the arson attack on Sunday, Jan. 15, showed an older white pick-up truck with red doors parked near the clinic and showed a man going up to the building with a laundry detergent-sized bottle. The man light a rag on one end of the bottle and used an object to smash the window. He then put the container inside the building then left.

Tips connected the truck to Massengill who had left the truck in Sparland where he had taken the truck to get the doors painted. Then, according to the statement, the truck was seized and Massengill met with investigators at the Peoria Police Department on Jan. 24 where he was taken into custody.

If convicted, Massengill faces up to 40 years in prison.

“We are pleased an arrest has been made in the firebombing of the Peoria Planned Parenthood Health Center on January 15,” said Planned Parenthood CEO Jennifer Welch. “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.”

The Peoria Journal-Star reported that Massengill told authorities that if his “actions the night of January 15, 2023, caused ‘a little delay’ in a person receiving services at the PHC, his conduct may have been ‘all worth it.'”

He appeared in court via video conference with U.S. Magistrate Judge Eric Long. The newspaper reported that he was being held in the Peoria County Jail.

Welch said the arson 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,” she said.

The Peoria Planned Parenthood Health Center was vandalized when someone threw a fire accelerant through a window, causing a fire in the building on Sunday, Jan. 15. No one was in the clinic at the time and two firefighters were taken to hospitals for minor injuries. Damages are estimated at more than $1 million and will keep the clinic closed for months.

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