Man charged with murder of paraplegic veteran Preston Tullos, who died after fire in his South Shore apartment

Chicago Sun-Times

Freddie Polk | Chicago Police

Freddie Polk | Chicago Police

A man was ordered held without bond Thursday in connection with a fire at a South Shore apartment in January that left paraplegic veteran Preston Steven Tullos dead.

Freddie Polk set the fire around 7 p.m. Jan. 16 inside his wheelchair-bound friend’s apartment in a 10-story building in the 7100 block of South Shore Drive, Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Joseph Carlson said at bond hearing.

After several hours of drinking, the two men argued and the fight turned physical, with Polk knocking the 39-year-old Tullos out of his wheelchair, Carlson said.

Surveillance video showed Polk leaving the apartment about 10 minutes before neighbors reported smoke coming from Tullos’ apartment, Carlson said.

Firefighters found Tullos, badly burned, next to a small fire in the middle of the living room. Two-thirds of his body was covered in burns, including his head, neck, chest, abdomen and back. Tullos died the following day at Stroger Hospital.

Tullos, a U.S. Navy veteran, was a graduate of Kenwood Academy High School who attended Harold Washington College before transferring to Clark Atlanta University.

His cause and manner of death were officially listed as undetermined on an autopsy report, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

But Polk, 35, admitted to police that he set the fire after getting into a fight with Tullos, Carlson said.

He is charged with aggravated arson and first-degree murder, prosecutors said.

A police report indicates Polk was arrested Monday on State Street in Englewood, after he was reported by a shop owner for selling loose cigarettes.

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