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15-Year-Old Georgia Boy Charged with Murder for Allegedly Setting Easter Sunday Fire That Killed His 10-Year-Old Sister

An image released by Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services crews shows the charred remains of the home where the victim died.

An image released by Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services crews shows the charred remains of the home where the victim died.

A 15-year-old Loganville, Georgia boy is charged with malice murder and felony murder in connection with the death of a 10-year-old girl in a house fire over the weekend, the Gwinnett County Police Department has announced. The victim, the department said, is the suspect’s sister.

The suspect, said the authorities, fled the scene after torching the house — an act that led fire crews to search for him inside. That search concluded when the authorities discovered the suspect was alive and well “away from the scene.”

The authorities have not released the names of either the suspect or the victim.

The fire broke out around 4:57 a.m. on Easter Sunday in the 4400 block of Beaver Road SW, the police department and the fire department both said.

“Once fire crews were able to successfully control the fire, a 10-year-old female victim was found deceased, inside the burned home,” said a police department press release. “Gwinnett Fire Department Arson Investigators determined the fire was set intentionally.”

Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services crews said separately that a 911 caller who reported the incident “advised there was a fire in front of the house, and she was trying to get the kids.”

“Additional information advised two kids were outside with the caller and two kids were still inside the house,” the fire department said.  “Due to the information provided, additional units were requested and started towards the scene.”

Their description of the incident continued:

On arrival, firefighters found a single-story residence on a slab with heavy fire involvement throughout the front of the structure. A walk-around of the structure was completed while hose lines were deployed through the tree line to the front of the home. While crews worked to get a knockdown, multiple crews arriving on scene began performing Vent-Enter-Search (VES) which focuses searches on tenable locations for victims primarily utilizing exterior window access. Multiple aggressive search attempts were executed to locate the missing children. After the fire was brought under control, a 10-year-old female victim was located deceased in room used as a bedroom without window access. Efforts continued for the next couple hours to sift through debris to locate the 15-year-old male that was believed to be inside. Around 9 a.m., the 15-year-old was located away from the scene and appeared to be okay. The home sustained extensive fire damage throughout the front half of the structure including the attic. Two cats were also found deceased inside the home.

Fire officials said seven people — two adults and five children — lived at the home.

“One adult and four children were at home when the fire broke out,” the fire department continued.  “According to a family member, smoke alarms are installed in the home, but they did not activate.’

Police chaplains and the American Red Cross were both assisting the survivors, the fire department added. Two adults, four children, and two dogs needed shelter.

A full cause-and-origin investigation remains ongoing, the fire department said.

Six engines, one ladder truck, and a bevy of other fire apparatuses were used to knock down the inferno.

A neighbor told Atlanta NBC affiliate WXIA that he had only spoken to the occupants of the destroyed home twice over a 25-year period. The neighbor, Mike Kilgore, said he believed the children were homeschooled.

“How can one kid take another kid’s life, especially when it’s your own brother or sister?” Kilgore said of the allegations.

Gwinnett County Police Department Investigator Christian D’Allaird told the TV station that the incident was isolated and that there was no threat to the public at large.

[image via a Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services handout]

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.