Fire that Killed 5 Deliberately Set, Investigators Say
DALLAS (AP) _ The deaths of three children and two teen-agers in a house fire have been ruled homicides and investigators continuing seeking leads Friday to the identity of the arsonist who started the blaze.
One of the victims of Wednesday’s blaze had earlier spoken about receiving threatening telephone calls, his girlfriend said.
Keyana Thompson, 14, a friend of victim Bernard Jordan, said he told her that the caller once said: ″I’m going to burn your house up and you’re going to be in it.″
Jordan, 16, became so fearful of the caller that he planned to leave town and left a note for Thompson in case anything happened to him. Jordan’s friends and relatives said they did not know who was threatening him.
″We’re checking out all those leads. We’re trying to verify that,″ Dallas Deputy Fire Chief T.W. Oney said.
Oney declined to say what evidence was gathered to lead to the arson ruling. ″We’re talking to anyone that’s got something to say. We’ve picked up a lot of information,″ he said.
He declined to say if there was a specific suspect.
The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s office ruled the deaths homicides Thursday.
Oney said firefighters were hampered in their attempts to battle the blaze by anti-burglary bars on the windows and a love seat pushed against the door.
″We had to break in the house. This was very tragic. It’s worse because it is an arson situation and it was children,″ said Oney.
Investigators said they weren’t sure if the love seat was purposely pushed against the door, or if it was knocked there when the victims tried to escape. Investigators also found a charred 1-gallon gasoline can in the house; it was purchased by the family recently for use with a lawn mower but was supposed to be on the porch, officials said.
The father of one of the victims was arrested when he tried to run to her side in an ambulance.
Police Chief Mack Vines ordered an internal investigation to determine if departmental procedure was violated when officers wrestled Homer Hutchins to the ground and placed him in a neck restraining hold after he illegally parked his truck and tried to run to his 2-year-old daughter, Jasmas, whose 18-year- old mother also died in the fire.