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Grandmother Arrested in Mass. Blaze

March 2, 1999

LYNN, Mass. (AP) _ A grandmother with a history of mental illness has been charged with setting a fire that killed two adults and three girls at the home of her son’s estranged girlfriend.

Kathleen Hilton, 52, was arrested Saturday after telling police she set the Feb. 24 fire, apparently to deflect the suspicion that had settled on her son, Charles Loayza.

Witnesses said Loayza, 22, had threatened to torch the building where his ex-girlfriend, Krystina Sutherland, and her two children lived on the second floor.

Sutherland and her two children escaped the fire. Sonia Hernandez, 32; Sonia’s husband, Heriberto Feliciano, 34; their two daughters, Sonia and Maria Feliciano, 12 and 13; and niece Glorimar Santiago, 11, died.

On Monday, a district court judge postponed Hilton’s arraignment because the defendant claimed during psychiatric interviews that her cell was haunted and that she saw spirits.

Hilton has been institutionalized for mental illness and has suffered from seizures since age 5, according to her lawyer, Michael Natola.

Judge Joseph Dever ordered tests and observation of Hilton, with another court date on March 19 _ if doctors decide she’s mentally capable.

Natola said that Hilton’s confession were the words of a disturbed woman who did not understand the consequences of her actions.

``The statements she is alleged to have made to Lynn police were an effort to clear her son under a mistaken impression that by making those statements she would help him,″ said Natola.

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