Runners charged with arson
York High students also may be expelled
By Art Barnum
Tribune staff reporter
Published September 30, 2005
Two members of York High School's highly ranked varsity cross-country team face expulsion after being charged in the arson of a $1 million Elmhurst home and a school bus.
DuPage County Assistant State's Atty. Robert Berlin told a judge Wednesday that the varsity runners--Justin Jones and Brian Marchese, both 17--and a 15-year-old team member drove by a residential construction site at 845 S. Poplar Ave. on July 24, "saw it empty, parked a block away and went inside."
"They found a cardboard box filled with construction debris, and Jones set it on fire," Berlin said.
He said the boys left the scene, "and within minutes, considering the dry summer, the home was engulfed in flames.
"They decided to return to the scene, drove by, saw the fire and made a conscious decision not to alert fire or police and left," he said.
The same boys and a fourth York student, Daniel Kunesh, 17, were reportedly involved two nights later, Berlin said, in setting a fire that destroyed a school bus at Sandburg Middle School.
Berlin said Jones set the bus fire with gasoline he took from his home, with Marchese and the juvenile standing watch outside the bus and Kunesh driving a getaway car.
All four have been charged with residential arson and arson, three as adults and one as a juvenile.
Berlin detailed the alleged crime to Judge James Konetski, who ordered the 15-year-old be placed on electronic home monitoring.
Jones and Marchese were each released this week from the DuPage County Jail on $20,000 bond, and Kunesh was released on $15,000 bond. All three are to be arraigned Oct. 31. All four defendants are students at York High School in Elmhurst.
Brian Telander, attorney for the juvenile, said Wednesday that school officials will hold a hearing Monday, seeking to expel the four. He said his client is also a member of the school's cross-country team.
School officials have declined to comment on the athletic or academic standing of the four students.
Telander said, however, that parents of the teenagers are considering their education options.
Jones and Marchese are both seniors and are members of the varsity three-time defending state championship team.
School officials alerted police this month after rumors spread about the students' involvement.
The three charged as adults face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, if convicted. Two homes next to the destroyed home also sustained major damage, Berlin said.