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‘I killed him’: Charges filed in case of grandfather stabbed, burned

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Maxwell Wolcott

Salt Lake County Jail

SALT LAKE CITY — Formal charges were filed Wednesday against a man accused of stabbing his grandfather and then setting him and his house on fire.

Maxwell Wolcott, 28, of Murray, was charged in 3rd District Court with aggravated murder, aggravated arson and aggravated burglary, all first-degree felonies; and obstructing justice, a second-degree felony.

On Jan. 10, the Salt Lake City Fire Department responded to a house fire just after 7 a.m. at 717 E. Logan Avenue. Inside a bedroom, they found the body of John H. Peel, 74, and discovered not only had he suffered “extensive burns,” but had also been stabbed, according to charging documents. A knife and a pair of scissors were found next to Peel’s body, the charges state.

A fire investigator determined the fire started in the bedroom where Peel’s body was found and was caused by a lighter and “ignitable liquid on or around the body of (the) victim,” according to charging documents.

Surveillance video from a nearby house showed Wolcott’s car driving in the area about 45 minutes prior to the fire, the charges state.

When interviewed by police, Wolcott said, “I killed him ... I killed him,” charging documents state.

Wolcott said he kicked in his grandfather’s door, stabbed him in the chest, then drove back to his apartment to get lighter fluid, returned to the house and “squirted his grandfather with lighter fluid, lit him on fire, and threw the lighter fluid bottle on him,” the charges state.

Court documents do not give a possible motive for the alleged crime. Wolcott was being held in Salt Lake County Jail on Wednesday on $1 million bail.