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Suspect In University Arsons Will Go To Prison

A man from Columbia, Mo., is going to federal prison for six and a half years for setting fires at University of Missouri’s main library and at Stephens College.

The penalty includes $600,000 in restitution.

At least seven fires were set in Ellis Library in September 2011. Computers and security cameras and windows were shattered with a pipe. Damage and cleanup was worth roughly $1.5 million.

Christopher Curtis Kelley, 27, also damaged the repository of Missouri State Historical Society housed in the same building.

Kelley was seen on video surveillance tapes and detectives tied him to earlier arson at Stephens College  teacher training center.

Kelley turned himself in and was convicted last year, acting as his own lawyer. Witnesses  said he liked to prowl University of Missouri buildings while drunk as an “urban explorer.”

Prosecutors said fire restoration included Historical Society staff spending  1,000 hours repairing art and exhibit panels.

Other work, according to testimony,  involved protecting tens of thousands of journals and periodicals and drying original documents after water damage, each page individually dried with blotting paper.

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