Skip to main content

‘He Set Her on Fire. He Tortured Her’: Illinois Man Charged with Killing Girlfriend’s Mom by Setting House Ablaze

Susanne Tomlinson's home following the deadly fire allegedly set by Michael E. Sloan Jr.

Susanne Tomlinson’s home following the deadly fire allegedly set by Michael E. Sloan Jr.

A 40-year-old Illinois man faces felony charges for attempting to kill his girlfriend before intentionally setting fire to his girlfriend’s mother’s house last Thursday, killing 69-year-old Susanne Tomlinson, authorities say.

Michael E. Sloan Jr. was charged with three counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder, one count of aggravated arson and one count of aggravated unlawful restraint, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.

According to a press release from Madison County State’s Attorney Thomas A. Haine, officers with the Troy Police Department responded to a 911 call about a domestic disturbance at the duplex where Sloan resided with his girlfriend located on Wood Thrush, about four hours south of Chicago.

Prior to setting the fire, Sloan first tried to kill his girlfriend, Courtney Tomlinson, prosecutors alleged. Sloan allegedly ordered Courtney to “bind herself with zip-ties on her wrists” then covered her with gasoline while “holding a knife to her throat and stating that he was going to kill her,” the press release states.

“He grabbed the gas can, opened up my bathroom door and threw it in my face,” Courtney reportedly said in an interview with St. Louis NBC affiliate KSDK. “I couldn’t see. I was rinsing out my eyes. I have chemical burns on my chest. He had the lighter lit, but he couldn’t throw it on me for some reason. I was doused in gasoline.”

After Sloan allegedly assaulted Courtney, he went to Susanne’s home carrying a can of gasoline, prosecutors said. Courtney was reportedly able to free herself from the restraints and escape to a neighbor’s home.

Prosecutors said that “moments after” police arrived on the scene, a “large fire erupted” at Susanne’s home while she was still inside. Flames and heavy smoke quickly engulfed the residence, hindering first responder’s attempts to get inside, the press release added.

Courtney reportedly told KSDK that she witnessed Sloan set the deadly blaze, claiming that he also attempted to light himself on fire.

“He threw gas on [Susanne Tomlinson’s] face. She couldn’t see. I yelled, ‘Are you OK?’ He pushed her. She fell on the floor,” Courtney reportedly told the station. “He set her on fire. He tortured her, and then, he doused himself.”

Firefighters managed to pull Sloan from the blaze. He was transported to a St. Louis area hospital for treatment where he remained as of Tuesday afternoon, KSDK reported.

An autopsy determined that Susanne’s cause of death was smoke inhalation, the release states.

“This was a senseless act of violence that shook the community,” Haine said in a statement. “Our office extends sympathy to the family as well as the witnesses, police officers and firefighters who were there as this tragedy unfolded. Thanks to their courage, bravery and great police work, our office can and will fight for justice for the victims.”

Sloan appeared before Madison County Circuit Court Judge Janet Rae Heflin who set his bond at $1 million.

The charging document and press release are below:

[Image via KSDK screengrab]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime:

Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.