DA: Man indicted for setting deadly fire inside Bucks County home

A Pennsylvania man is facing homicide charges after an 81-year-old man was killed in a fire last year.

Officials say Julius Drelick, 81, and his wife were inside their house when it went up in flames in December 2021. 

Drelick's wife was able to escape, but her husband Julius was still trapped inside. He was pronounced dead at the scene after crews were finally able to reach him.

Accelerant was detected in three different areas in the family room, according to officials.

Hours after the fire, police stopped 61-year-old Christopher Gillie, who reportedly lives with the Drelick's daughter in Lackawanna County.

Gillie was emanating a strong odor of gasoline when he was found with a lighter, keys to the Drelick's house and a rifle, according to officials.

He was formally arraigned Friday morning on charges of criminal homicide, attempted criminal homicide, theft by unlawful taking, aggravated arson, criminal mischief, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, persons not to possess firearms, two counts each of burglary and criminal trespassing and three counts of arson endangering persons. 


This indictment comes a day after the Bucks County District Attorney's Office filed a notice reserving its right to seek the death penalty against Gillie, listing three aggravating factors to prove should it choose to pursue the death penalty against him. 

Those factors included:

  1. The defendant committed the killing during the commission of a felony.
  2. In the commission of the murder the defendant knowingly created a grave risk of death to another person in addition to the victim of the murder.
  3. That the defendant has a significant history of felony convictions involving the use or threat of violence to a person.

Gillie remains at the Bucks County Correctional Facility without bail.