UNIVERSITY CITY — The brother of a St. Louis-area lawyer was charged Sunday with trying to burn down the lawyer’s University City home.
John C. Christmas, 49, of St. Louis, was charged with one count of first-degree attempted arson. Jerryl Christmas, a St. Louis-based lawyer, confirmed that his brother came to his house about 2 am in an attempt to burn it down.
According to charging documents and Jerryl Christmas, John Christmas sent threatening text messages to his brother that included threats to burn down his brother’s home in the 900 block of Jeanerette Drive in University City.
About 2 am Sunday, John Christmas filled a 5-gallon gas tank, scaled a ladder to the roof of his brother’s house and doused gasoline on the roof, charges and Jerryl Christmas said. Jerryl Christmas said he was awake at the time because his brother, who for years has suffered from bipolar disorder and substance abuse, had been texting him threats.
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Jerryl Christmas said he saw his brother climbing the ladder “and knew immediately” what was happening and called 911. His brother left before police arrived. According to charges, John Christmas admitted pouring the gasoline and told police he’d “do it again but this time I’m going to light it.”
“He definitely needs to get help, and for right now, he needs to be confined,” Jerryl Christmas said. “He’s my brother and I love him but he has some serious issues.”
Jerryl Christmas said he and his brother grew up in the house on Jeanerette Drive and that brother’s case underscores the need to seek help for those suffering from mental illness.
“We need to make sure that we have treatment for people who have mental health issues, substance abuse issues,” he said. “It’s important for families to take that seriously and try to get family members help.”
What happened Sunday, Jerryl Christmas said, “could have been a fatal incident.”
John Christmas was held in lieu of a $100,000 cash-only bail. He did not yet have a lawyer to represent him.