Police suspect the three-alarm blaze that killed a mother and her four young children Thursday in their Staten Island apartment was intentionally set by the woman’s 14-year-old son before slitting his own throat with a straight-edged razor.
Leisa Jones, 30, was found dead in her charred Port Richmond living room with her daughters Melanie, 7, and Brittany, 10, both of whom had been slashed with a razor. Her two-year-old son Jermaine, who was found with them, died later at Richmond University Medical Center. The body of C.J., 14, was found dead in the back bedroom, a razor under his body.
The fire began in the second floor of the two-story multi-dwelling brick house at 302 Nicholas Ave. around 4 a.m. Fire officials said the apartment had no required smoke detector.
It was not immediately clear how the fire was set.
The troubled C.J. had been suspended from Intermediate School 72 this spring and had been ejected from a nearby public pool for setting a fire just hours before the fatal blaze, the Daily News reported.
But neighbors spoke of how well C.J. tended his siblings. Friend Chandra Franklin, 29, told the News, “He took care of his sisters like a dad.”
Jones, who recently moved to Staten Island from Washington, D.C., was attending beauty school.