FAYETTEVILLE — A fire investigation in Cumberland County has led to murder charges. Officials there say an 11-year-old girl is accused of setting a fire that killed a 7-year-old boy last Thursday.
Cumberland County Sheriff's detectives are releasing few details, but they say, after consulting with the district attorney's office, the 11-year-old was charged with first degree murder and first degree arson in the death of her neighbor, Demetrius Jordan.
The 11-year old girl and her younger sister were spending the night with their friend at the mobile home where he lived. Jordan did not make it out of the burning home alive.
Investigators say although they do not believe the girl meant to kill the boy, they do believe she intentionally started the fire.
"Our best evidence at the time indicates that the fire was set in the room near the victim. Our best information is a cigarette lighter was used," says Maj. Ray Davis, of the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office.
Investigators say they can prove the girl has started at least four other fires in the recent past.
The morning of the fire, the girl told WRAL-TV she was sleeping and woke up in time to escape with her sister.
"When I first saw the smoke I ducked down and I was feeling the doors, trying to get them out, to see if that was where the fire was," said the young suspect, who said she tried to save Jordan. "I tried to get him out. I was calling his name and hitting on the wall, and I couldn't stand that smoke so I had to leave."
The 11-year-old will be charged as a juvenile.
"I've had almost 35 years in law enforcement and this is the first time I've been involved with an 11-year-old being charged with this serious of a crime," Davis said.
Investigators say they have talked to the girl several times, but have not said whether she is cooperating or whether she has admitted to setting the fire.
The victim's mother and other family members declined to comment on the situation.