Local News

Domestic Troubles Figure in Probe of Fatal Fire

Posted February 23, 2007 6:55 a.m. EST
Updated February 23, 2007 7:22 p.m. EST

— A restraining order that one victim of a fatal Raleigh fire obtained against another figures in an investigation that Friday found traces of an accelerant inside the apartment where a man, a woman and their infant daughter died.

The fire in an apartment on Roselle Court in Raleigh also left 17 people homeless.

The fire at the Pines of Asheton complex near WakeMed is being investigated as a suspicious death and has been turned over to the Raleigh Police Department's major crimes task force.

Raleigh Police spokesperson Jim Sughrue said the deaths of a man, woman and child are being treated as a homicide investigation until that is either confirmed or ruled out.

“They've come a long way since yesterday, when the event occurred,” Sughrue said.

Assistant Fire Chief Larry Stanford said Friday that arson investigators found what is believed to be an accelerant inside the apartment, and it has been sent to the lab for testing.

The victim's names have not been released because police have yet to notify next-of-kin. The bodies were taken to the State Medical Examiner’s office for autopsies.

The man’s former boss said the couple was having marital problems and had just been to court.

According to court documents obtained by WRAL, the woman took out a restraining order against him nine days before their deaths.

In her own writing on the documents, the woman stated, “He is go to kill me if I live the home and take the babys. I fear for the children. My friend witnessed him beat me. I couldn't call the police because he had a gun in the house.”

According to the papers, the man worked as a security guard and had the gun for that job. It did not appear from the papers that the order was legally served on the man. The order's "Return of Service" portion is blank.

A 4-year-old girl who friends said also lived at the apartment was found safe with relatives. Authorities believe the woman was the girl's mother, but the man was not that child's father.

Stanford said that as firefighters were putting out the fire, a man's body was found in one room. A woman and their 11-month-old daughter were found in another.

Neighbors said they are thinking about the girl and what she lost .

“That's the sad thing about it—who's she going to look up to? How are you going to explain to her that they’re gone?” neighbor Mae Lillian Smith said,

The other families displaced by the fire could be allowed to return to their apartments this weekend.