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Landlady Arrested in Arson Fire that Killed Infant

May 21, 1993

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A woman who argued with tenants of a cottage she owned was arrested in an arson fire at the home that killed an infant, authorities said.

Raquel Lopez, 46, was held without bail following her arrest for investigation of murder in the fire Wednesday.

Firefighters found the body of 6-month-old Richard Robles after dousing flames at the two-room cottage in Sylmar, about 25 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

The blaze was deliberately set, said Lt. Larry Hinrichs, a police investigator.

Lopez said she wanted to teach a lesson to her tenants about their sloppiness, said Susan Arguello of the county district attorney’s Victim- Witness Assistance Program.

″She said she just wanted them to clean up the place,″ Aguello said. ″She swears she didn’t know the child was there. She just wanted to teach them a lesson.″ Ms. Lopez, who lived in another home on the two-acre property, rented the cottage to the infant’s parents, Ricardo Robles and Virginia Portillo. The couple’s 18-year-old daughter was caring for the baby but was elsewhere on the property when the fire occurred, authorities said.

An off-duty city firefighter and a neighbor tried to rescue the infant before fire crews arrived but couldn’t get through security bars on windows, officials said.

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