House set on fire aimed to be diversion from Kewanee gas station burglary, investigators say

KEWANEE, Illinois -- Three people facing burglary charges were also charged with arson, accused of setting a house on fire before committing a burglary at a gas station.

Two adults, 19-year-old John T. Sterling, and 28-year-old Shawna M. Jeanguenat, and a 16-year-old boy were charged in connection to a burglary at JoJo's Gas Station on North Main Street in Kewanee, according to a statement from the Kewanee Police Department.

Police said early on Tuesday, September 18, authorities were called to a house on fire in the 300 block of 5th Avenue.   While first responders were on their way to the fire, officers were called to a burglary happening at the gas station.

When they arrived at the gas station, police said officers saw 19-year-old John T. Sterling fleeing the scene and arrested him.  Police said they also arrested Jeanguenat and the 16-year-old for their roles in the burglary.

Both Sterling and Jeanguenat were taken to the Henry County Jail; the 16-year-old was released to a guardian. Sterling was being held on a $150k bond.  Jeanguenat was held on $50,000 bond.

All three were also charged with arson.  Police said the house that was on fire belonged to one of Sterling's family members.

"It was later determined that the house was set on fire to cause a diversion during the burglary,"

According to the police statement, detectives also tied Sterling and the 16-year-old to a rash of burglaries over the last six weeks.  The burglaries happened at the following Kewanee businesses: Patty's Barber Shop, Center City, Northeast Park, Dairy Queen, the Red Apple, the Station House, Cernovich's Scrap Yard, and JoJo's Gas Station.

The 16-year-old was charged with eight counts of burglary, eight counts of theft and arson.

Sterling was charged with eight counts of burglary, six counts of theft, arson, possession of burglary tools, criminal damage to property, and resisting a peace officer.   He was also facing drug charges from late August, filed in connection to the burglary investigation.

Jeanguenat was formally charged with burglary, arson, and theft.

Sterling and Jeanguenat were expected to be in Henry County court on October 1.