UPDATE: Murder-suicide confirmed in Hemet fire that killed 2
UPDATED: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 8:30 a.m.
See original story, 25 photos, and 4 videos below.
HEMET — A suspicious residential blaze that left two women dead has been confirmed by fire and police officials to have been a murder-suicide. The pair was reportedly related as aunt and niece, ages 79 and 54, with one of the two acting as caretaker for the other. Both died in the ensuing blaze that destroyed the double-wide manufactured home where the pair had been living in Hemet’s Sierra Dawn 2 Estates.
The determination of murder-suicide was made after an investigation uncovered one or more social media posts that warned the women’s family members in part, “You should of seen this coming!” Those social media posts, along with other crucial evidence gathered at the scene of the fire, helped officials make their official determination of murder-suicide.
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In one of those vague but grim notes, which was posted just hours before the deadly fire, one of the pair – who will not be listed by name until coroner officials officially release the women’s identities – the alleged arsonist who was acting as caretaker for the victim killed in the blaze complained about having to take care of her relative. She also expressed that she had been hurt by lack of help and support from other family members, some of whom she personally named.
City of Hemet Police and Fire personnel learned of the cryptic but grim social media posts even before the deadly blaze had been extinguished, leading them to suspect the fatal fire may have been intentionally set from the outset of their fire investigation. Based on that social media post as well as other unspecified but related evidence found at the scene, a team of City and County Arson investigators descended on the location, even as the destroyed home was still smoldering.
One of those social media posts which caused friends and family the most concern read in part: “To My Family, You should of seen this coming! The Hurt I have had from all of You! D—– please tell M—- I Love You Guys. B—–, you should of been mine. Tell those cousins A—– & D—– they should of taken care of your Dad not Me! L—–, Sorry! And the B—–, Love you C—–!”
After seeing the vague note posted to social media, many of the alleged suspect’s friends and family reached out to the caretaker, asking if she was OK and if she needed help. Despite people reaching out to her and offering help and support, the caretaker turned arsonist who made the post never responded back.
Tragically, both she and the victim would be found dead just a few hours later, after both their lifeless bodies were pulled from their fire ravaged residence.
“Arson Investigators and City of Hemet Police Detectives (assumed) the investigation into the incident,” Hemet Police Lt. Jeff Davis announced last night in the aftermath of the deadly fire. “The investigation is ongoing, but (has) determined the incident was murder–suicide.”
In the wake of the senseless and tragic deaths, many friends and family members who knew the aunt and niece expressed anguish, frustration, and sadness at the deaths. Many also expressed anger and confusion toward the woman who felt her only option was to not only kill herself, but also the family member she was supposed to be caring for.
After hearing about the reported suicide note, one woman who lives near the location of the deadly arson blaze and said she knew both the aunt and niece expressed shock and surprise, saying, “Oh hell no… Oh God no…” (See Eddie George/Hemet News video and interview below.)
The unidentified woman then said she had treated the pair to a Christmas meal and she was aware the caretaker had been unhappy but she never suspected things were so bad. She also said that in the days leading to the deadly fire the woman had complained about her family and how she had been trying to call and text them, but she didn’t think much about it because, “To me that’s normal, because it’s Christmas.”
Hemet PD, along with Hemet Fire, are still investigating the incident and coroner officials are expected to release the women’s names soon.
Anyone with information regarding this incident or who knows what may have led to the murder-suicide is encouraged to contact Hemet Police Investigator Klinzing at (951) 765-2423. Callers can remain anonymous.
Original Story: Two dead after Hemet residential fire
HEMET — Firefighters have confirmed that two people were killed in a swift-moving and destructive blaze that erupted at a Hemet residence last night, Saturday, Dec. 29. Two cats also reportedly perished in the fire, according to sources at the scene. The deadly fire happened in the Sierra Dawn 2 Estates in the 1600 block of W. Johnston Ave., between S. Lyon Ave. and S. Elk St.
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City of Hemet Fire and Police Departments, along with other emergency personnel responded to the location about 7:53 p.m., after receiving “reports of a vehicle fire that was under a car port with exposure to the residence,” Hemet Fire Battalion Chief Jamie Majghrzak explained after the blaze was extinguished.
In total, more than two dozen firefighters from seven engine companies, including all five of Hemet Fire Department’s engines, as well as two Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire engine companies that were called in for mutual aid, were dispatched to the deadly fire.
When officials arrived they reported finding a fully involved vehicle blaze and a double-wide manufactured home engulfed in fire, with thick black smoke and flames billowing from every window and through the home’s roof.
Dramatic footage taken from the scene of last night’s fatal fire by Timothy Franzese of Facebook’s Public Safety Incidents showed firefighters arriving at a chaotic scene, with area residents yelling that at least two people were believed to be trapped inside the burning residence.
Although the first firefighters to arrive at the scene immediately began an aggressive attack on the fire, after learning that victims could be trapped inside the burning residence, firefighters “changed from fire attack to rescue mode and set up for an interior safe aggressive attack,” Majghrzak explained.
During an initial search of the burning residence firefighters located one victim who was pulled from the home and rushed to Hemet Valley Hospital where she succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced deceased, according to Majghrzak.
Although firefighters were initially unable to locate any other victims, they continued battling the blaze, according to Majghrzak, who explained, “After a long secondary search the second victim was located.”
Majghrzak did not specify where the victims had been located or if both were found inside the destroyed residence.
Although the victims from last night’s fire have been reported to have been related as an aunt and her niece, with one of the victims reportedly being a caretaker for the other, neither have been publicly identified pending further investigation and notification of the victims’ families.
Even as firefighters were still battling the blaze, rumors of a suicide note or grim message reportedly posted to social media by one of the victims had begun to spread in online forums and social media news groups, leading to an Internet firestorm of speculation about the cause of the deadly fire.
That note, which will not yet be released in its entirety due to the sensitive nature of the full contents, was addressed to and referenced several of the victim’s family members and read in part, “You should of seen this coming! The Hurt I have had from all of You.”
Asked about the message and whether the fire was believed to have been intentionally set, Majghrzak responded, “That is completely under investigation at this point.”
Hemet Police Chief Rob Webb later addressed the rumors, saying, “At this point the fire is under investigation. We have no definitive cause of origin – or motive – we hope to have a better picture in the days to come as we continue our efforts.”
“Out of respect to the family I would ask for everyone’s patience as we attempt to determine the cause,” Webb continued.
The cause of the blaze that destroyed the home and left the two residents dead is still under investigation and officials have not released any further details or information.
This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.
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Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren