Arson Fire Kills Four Children
Feb. 03, 2000
HARVEY, La. (AP) _ A man suspected of splashing a flammable liquid on an apartment floor and sparking a blaze that killed four young children was arrested early today.
Whitney Spencer, 45, faces charges of murder, attempted murder and aggravated arson, Sheriff's Col. Bob Garner said.
Spencer had been picked out of a photo lineup put together from witness descriptions and neighborhood interviews following the Wednesday night blaze, Garner said.
Spencer knocked on the victims' door and asking to speak to a woman who lived at the apartment, police said. After learning she was not home, Garner said, he splashed a flammable liquid on the floor and set it on fire before fleeing.
An elderly man in the home, identified as the grandfather, and another woman were able to rush three children to safety, but four others ran up to the second floor of the apartment because they were frightened by the flames, authorities said.
The grandfather was turned back by intense smoke and heat when he tried to return for the remaining children.
Firefighters made their way inside as they fought the blaze and found the bodies of three girls and a boy between the ages of 1 and 7. Their names were not released.
``Apparently there were some were siblings and some cousins. We're still trying to sort that out,'' Garner said.
Authorities have not determined a motive for the fire.
Family and neighbors could be seen sobbing outside the smoldering apartment in this New Orleans suburb.
Red Cross officials said four families were forced out of neighboring apartments.