Four-Year-Old Dies After Father Allegedly Set Her Ablaze

Chicago, IL – Nathaniel Beller, 29, allegedly assaulted his girlfriend and their two children. He used an accelerant, setting the three victims ablaze in a Lawndale home. The children involved were 4-year-old Neriyah Beller and her 9-year-old brother Naciere Beller. Both were critically injured in the fire. Neriyah had been burned throughout the majority of her body, while her brother suffered burns to almost a third of his.

The Cook County Medical Examiner declared the death of Taniya Johnson, their mother, officially as a homicide. It was determined that Johnson, 33, had died from multiple stab wounds in combination with the fire.

CBS Chicago News reported that local police found Nathaniel critically burned outside of the residence early Saturday morning. He later passed away at the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital Sunday afternoon. Police discovered gas cans behind the home.

Monday, two days after the assault, Neriyah was declared dead by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office, according to the Chicago Tribune. She died due to her injuries.

The Daily Mail reports that the girl’s father Nathaniel had a history of alleged domestic abuse against Johnson and the two children. In 2007, he reportedly plead guilty to domestic battery and had an order of protection taken out against him. He was also accused of abusing his children and had been banned from visiting them without the supervision of a social worker.

Nathaniel’s mother Willie, her surname spelled Beler, 52, said the two had been engaged for about two years. Her son had moved back into her home two months before and was taking medication for bipolar disorder. The rest of the family came for a visit to her Lawndale home that evening.

Willie claims she went to bed after dinner and first learned of the fire at 4 am when she awoke to see her son engulfed in flames, running through her home.

Willie told the news Monday:

“My son came running through, he was on fire, and he said that she set me on fire. My grandson was running behind him and the flames that was flying off him was hitting my grandson.”

Willie’s account rivals that of the police report. The suspect’s mother vehemently denies her son started the blaze, accusing Johnson instead of setting the fire that has since killed her son, his fiancée, and their daughter.