A Utah man has been charged with stabbing his grandfather to death and then trying to cover up the crime by setting the victim’s body — and his house — on fire.
Maxwell Wolcott, 28, of Murray, has been charged in 3rd District Court with aggravated murder, aggravated arson and aggravated burglary, all first-degree felonies; and obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony.
On Jan. 10, firefighters battling a house fire at 717 E. Logan Ave. discovered the body of John Peel, 74, inside. There were “obvious signs of trauma to the body” — a 4-centimeter wound in his chest, in addition to “extensive burns.” Police found a knife and a pair of scissors next to the body, and investigators determined the fire — which caused extensive damage to the house — began when an “ignitable liquid” on and around the body was set ablaze.
According to a probable cause statement, surveillance video from a neighboring home showed Wolcott’s car in an alley next to the home shortly before the fire was reported. Police found Wolcott and, after he was read his Miranda rights, the victim’s grandson said, “I killed him. … I killed him.”
Wolcott went on to say, according to police, that he went to the home, “kicked the door in and stabbed his grandfather once in the heart.” The statement goes on to say that Wolcott told police he “drove back to his apartment to get lighter fluid,” then returned and “squirted his grandfather with lighter fluid, lit him on fire, and threw the lighter fluid bottle on him.”
According to the medical examiner, Peel died of a stab wound to the right side of his chest.
Wolcott is being held in the Salt Lake County jail; his bail was set at $1 million.