Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Arson? Suicide?

With reference to my last post about my neighbor's house, several readers asked how anyone knew for sure the homeowner's death was a suicide.

And the answer, of course, is that nobody really does know for sure.

Here were the circumstances:

She and a man who was also living in the house were arguing in the driveway outside the garage. In fact, Carol and I saw them there just minutes before the fire. She went into the house, slamming and locking the door.

Minutes later (maybe 10 to 15) the central portion of the house was engulfed in flames. The fire erupted VERY fast and flames were soon shooting through the roof. Later investigation showed that gasoline or a similar accelerant had been poured into the middle of the house. When it ignited, the fire raged into intensity very quickly.

The man who had been arguing with her outside ran into the back yard screaming her name and telling her to "Get out!" She was later found by the firemen lying on a bed in the back bedroom, dead from smoke inhalation or asphyxiation. The assumption was that the doused the central part of the house, ignited the gasoline, went into the bedroom and lay down. There was no sign of any attempt on her part to open a window or exit the house.

In the months prior to the fire she had attempted suicide several times. She had confided to me and Carol that she was clinically depressed and addicted to prescription medications. There is a lot more to her story, but I won't go into that now.

Bottom line: the investigators determined that the fire was clearly deliberately set. Given the timing of the blaze immediately following the argument, her prior medical history, the evidence of gasoline, the lack of evidence of any attempt on her part to escape, all led to the ruling of arson/suicide.

But will we ever know for sure? Not really.


kenju said...

As I said previously, it is a sad story. I wonder if the man she was arguing with feels guilty about it?

Karyn Lyndon said...

That is a sad story so I'm going to change the subject...my brother-in-law who is the captain of a fire station in Dallas got a nutcracker dressed like a fireman for Christmas. I told him it was a fire-cracker...

: )

Peter said...

The evidence looks pretty conclusive as you tell it John.

Duke_of_Earle said...

Thanks, Karyn. We needed that!

It's easy to dwell on bad news and on the misery of others. My next post will be lighter, I promise.