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Handout: Katie Alwood

The mother of a 9-year-old boy charged with starting a fire that killed 5 family members says he made a mistake, but he has a good heart.

28-year-old Katie Alwood told CBS News her son, Kyle Alwood, is not a monster.

"Everyone is looking at him like he's some kind of monster, but that's not who he is."

Alwood said her dead family members would want Kyle "to get the help he needs."

"People make mistakes, and that's what this is. Yes, it was a horrible tragedy, but it's still not something to throw his life away over."

Police say Kyle set fire to the family's mobile home while everyone was asleep on April 6. Alwood and Kyle were the only ones who managed to escape the blaze.

"I stood at the window and I told my kids I was sorry I couldn't save them. Mommy was right there, and I loved them. At least hopefully they heard that," she said.

"I don't know what's worse. Hearing them scream or hearing them stop."

Among the dead are Alwood's children, 2-year-old Daemon Wall and 1-year-old Ariel Wall; her niece, 2-year-old Rose Wall; her 69-year-old grandmother, Kathryn Murray; and her fiancé, 34-year-old Jason Wall.

The NY Daily News reports Kyle was arrested on Tuesday and charged with five counts of first-degree murder, two counts of arson and one count of aggravated arson.

Alwood says Kyle, who was recently diagnosed with a form of schizophrenia, ADHD, and bipolar disorder, "has a good heart."

She added that he helped her around the house and took care of the younger kids.

"He helped feed his brother and sister, helped teach them how to walk," she told The Chicago Tribune. "Yes, he should be punished, but he needs mental help, that's what he needs."

ALwood gave permission to media outlets to publish Kyle's photo and name.

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