An Illinois man is accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend days before she was supposed to give birth, before setting her home on fire in an attempt to cover it all up.
Matthew Plote, 34, faces murder and other charges for the 2020 death of Melissa Lamesch, 27, the Ogle County State’s Attorney Mike Rock announced on Wednesday.
She died just two days before was due to give birth. Initially, officials believed she died of asphyxiation caused by the house fire.
But now, they allege that what happened to her and her unborn baby was much more sinister. They believe Plote strangled the mother-to-be before setting her home ablaze with her inside of it, WTVO reports.
“I just had this gut-wrenching feeling that something was wrong and I get this call from my dad,” Karl Lamesch, Melissa Lamesch’s brother, told the station. “He says, ‘Have you heard from or seen Melissa?’ and I said, ‘No, I’ve been at work all day’ and he tells me the house is on fire and no one has heard from her or seen her, and right then, I knew, it was just something in my gut, that she was gone and I couldn’t feel her.”
He added that while the charges are a relief, they won’t bring Melissa back.
Among his charges, Plote faces three counts of first degree murder, one count of premeditated first degree murder, three counts of intentional homicide of an unborn child, residential arson, aggravated domestic battery and concealment of a homicidal death. He was arrested on Wednesday.
On Plote’s Facebook page, he states that he is a volunteer member of the Malta Fire Department.
Melissa worked as an EMT but was on leave to get ready to give birth.
“She did so much good and helped COVID patients and I’m sure saved a lot of lives and it’s sad to think she doesn’t have one now,” her brother told WTVO.
The siblings had been decorating a nursery for what they hoped was her new son; Plote was reported the unborn boy’s father.
“We ended up Skyping each other and I helped her set up the nursery pictures in her room, and she was like ‘Where do they go? Help me figure out where they go,’” Karl told WTVO.
It’s not clear if Plote has an attorney. He is behind held on a $10 million bond.
Karl is remembering her sister’s “contagious smiles.”
“I want people to remember her for the happy person she is, the good person she is and to have those memories and cherish them,” he told WTVO.