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Jury Finds Firefighter Killed Pregnant Girlfriend, Set House on Fire with Her Inside Just Days Before Due Date

Matthew Plote was convicted of murder and killing an unborn child for the 2020 killing of Melissa Lamesch

<p>Facebook</p> Melissa Lamesch

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Melissa Lamesch
  • Firefighters found Melissa Lamesch unconscious on her kitchen floor in her burning home in Nov. 2020, per authorities

  • Matthew Plote admitted to police that he was at the residence on the day of the fire

  • Police found his DNA at the scene, per reports

An Illinois man strangled his 9-month-pregnant girlfriend to death and lit her house on fire in an attempt to hide evidence, a jury has found.

Matthew Plote, 36, was found guilty on Friday in the 2020 killing of his girlfriend Melissa Lamesch in Mount Morris, Ill., according to WIFR, WTVO and Shaw Local.

Lamesch, 27, was killed just days before she was set to give birth to the couple’s son, according to WTVO, NBC Chicago and Shaw Local.

She was an EMT, NBC Chicago previously reported.

On Friday, Plote was convicted of first-degree murder, homicide of an unborn child, arson, battery and concealment of a homicide, WTVO reported.

<p>Ogle County Sheriff's Office</p> Matthew Plote

Ogle County Sheriff's Office

Matthew Plote

On Nov. 25, 2020, firefighters responded to reports of smoke coming out of a home and found the house with heavy smoke and with a smoke detector blaring inside the home, WIFR reported at the time. They found Lamesch unconscious on her kitchen floor, per WTVO.

More than a year later, Plote was arrested in March 2022 and charged in connection with the killing of Lamesch and the unborn child, according to another WIFR report.

Plote, who was a firefighter, was seemingly calm and working normally following the killing, his co-workers said, according to WIFR.

During an interview with police, Plote admitted to being at Lamesch’s residence on the day of the fire but denied the killing, the outlet reported. His DNA was the only other known DNA recovered at the scene other than Lamesch’s,

A GoFundMe set up for Lamesch’s family after the killing said she was a dedicated EMT worker and “always put herself on the line for her job.”

In her obituary, she was remembered for having her unique style.

“She was known for her tremendously unique smile, always arriving fashionably late, and [her love] of eating and napping,” read a part of the obituary. “Everything was done in her perfectionistic ways and always in true 'Melissa Fashion.' She was unapologetically herself.”

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Following the verdict, her family shared moving testimonies on Friday.

Lamesch’s mother, Deanna Lamesch, shared the significance of the day they lost Melissa and her unborn child, noting that it happened the day before Thanksgiving and two days before the baby was due. 

“How do you come back from that?” she said.

No motive has been mentioned in the reports. Plote is scheduled for his sentencing in April.

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