Alvarez to review domestic violence case

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez vowed Thursday to review how her office handled domestic-violence charges three months before authorities said a Cicero father killed his wife and daughter and critically injured his son in an alleged case of arson last weekend.

In a statement, Alvarez said she had "serious questions and concerns" about why felony charges were not brought against Nathaniel Beller, 29, last September after he allegedly poured gasoline in the bathtub of his Cicero apartment and threatened to kill his two children.

Last Saturday, after his release from a mental health facility, Beller is suspected of pouring gasoline on his two young children and wife, Taniya Johnson, 33, in a home on Chicago's West Side and igniting them, officials said. Killed were Beller, his wife, and Neriyah, 4, his daughter. Son Naciere, 9, was critically injured.

"This case is a horrific tragedy involving the extremely complicated and challenging crime of domestic violence and the troubling and increasing prevalence of mental illness in criminal defendants," Alvarez said. "...This matter will be reviewed in its entirety and if individuals in this office need to be held accountable for their judgment, that will certainly occur."

Cicero spokesman Ray Hanania said Thursday that Cicero police recommended felony charges against Beller after the September incident, but that the state's attorney's office decided not to pursue that.

A Cicero police report indicated that an assistant state's attorney rejected felony charges because of a lack of evidence and the refusal of Beller's wife to cooperate.

State child-welfare officials removed the children from the home and placed them with an aunt while Cicero police continued to investigate the September incident. Meanwhile, Beller was committed to a mental health facility for the next three months, and the case went to juvenile court to determine custody of the children.

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