Homicide alleged after man found dead in burning apartment

CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — Authorities in St. Louis County say a man found dead in a burning apartment unit in August was the victim of a homicide.

The victim, 62-year-old James Kwiatkowski, was found dead in apartment on Aug. 2. Authorities on Thursday announced second-degree murder charges against 27-year-old Brandon Gaertner of Arnold. He is jailed on $100,000 cash-only bond.

A probable cause statement says police and fire crews responding to the early-morning fire put out the blaze and then found the victim's body in a closet. An autopsy revealed that Kwiatkowski died of blunt force trauma.

Charges don't cite a potential motive.

Gaertner's lawyer, Brice Donnelly, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “We are eagerly waiting discovery. My client is pleading not guilty.”