Suspect Arrested in Triple Fatal House Fire [Video]
News-Leader via YellowBrix
March 17, 2010
SPRINGFIELD – A 26-year-old Springfield man was arrested late Tuesday in connection with a fire that led to the deaths of three children.
Shortly before 11 p.m. Greene County Jail officials confirmed a man was booked on a 24-hour hold pending the filing of formal charges. He was arrested by Springfield police officers on suspicion of first-degree arson, according to online jail records. He is not named because he has not been charged.
Hours earlier, agents from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives joined the investigation into a house fire at 1711 W. Olive St.
Alexis M. Watson, 7, Kelsey Watson, 5, and Devin L. Watson, 4, died at a hospital after they were pulled from the second floor of the burning home. The children’s grandfather, Terry Watson Sr., remained in critical condition Tuesday at the St. John’s Regional Burn Unit.
The state fire marshal is also investigating, along with the Springfield police and fire departments. Springfield police Lt. David Millsap said ATF agents have the resources to reconstruct the fire, while local agencies do not.
An inquiry involving this many agencies is uncommon, but so is a triple-fatality fire, Millsap said.
Millsap said firefighters saw suspicious evidence while rescuing the family, which prompted the investigation, but would not elaborate on the evidence.
Fire crews were called to the home about 4:30 a.m. Monday and pulled three children and their grandfather out. The family members, split between CoxHealth and St. John’s hospitals, were admitted with burns and smoke inhalation.
The mother, Violet Watson, and fiancé David Williams were able to get out of the house uninjured.
Nikki Wardell, spokeswoman for the family, said Violet Watson and Williams were awakened by the grandfather telling them to get out. Wardell said she was told Williams got Violet out of the house and went back to help the grandfather but got lost in the smoke and ended up in a bathroom at the back of the house.
Wardell said Williams went out the back door for air, then went back into the house and tried to get to the children on the second floor, but the stairs were too hot.
Firefighters found the children on the second floor. Terry Watson Sr. was found in a first-floor bathroom.