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Canadian woman, 4 children die in Ohio house fire; husband charged with murder

MASON, Ohio - Police charged a Canadian man Saturday with murder in the deaths of his wife and their four children, who were pulled from their burning home.

MASON, Ohio - Police charged a Canadian man Saturday with murder in the deaths of his wife and their four children, who were pulled from their burning home.

Michel Veillette, 34, was charged with four counts of aggravated murder, one count of murder and one count of aggravated arson in the Friday night fire, officer Troy Nelson said.

Veillette also had been stabbed and remained in stable but serious condition Saturday at University Hospital in Cincinnati, Nelson said. He would not speculate on how Veillette was injured.

Nadya Ferrari-Veillette, 33, was killed along with her children, Marguerite, 8, Vincent, 4, and three-year-old twins Jacob and Mia, Nelson said.

Authorities said they received a call reporting the house fire just before 10 p.m. Friday.

"There's flames coming out the window," a woman told a 911 dispatcher. "I just drove by and saw smoke barreling out of this house."

One child was found dead inside the two-storey house. Three of the couple's other children were pulled from the fire from upstairs bedrooms and died at a hospital. None of the children had been stabbed, Nelson said.

Veillette had jumped out of a second-storey window and was found on the ground. Police Sgt. Jeff Burson said Veillette was unconscious Saturday and hadn't made any statements or hired a lawyer.

Investigators have not said how the fire began.

Police Sgt. Neil Garland told The Canadian Press the family was from Laval, Que., and that they had been living in Mason for about two years.

Garland added the investigation is continuing and police don't yet have a motive.

Neighbours said Veillette travelled frequently to Troy, Ohio, and Windsor, Ont., for his job designing auto engines and was home only a few days a month.

Marguerite was a third-grader at Mason Heights Elementary and her brother Vincent attended pre-school at Mason Early Childhood Center, according to school records. Neighbours said they often saw Marguerite walking to and from the bus stop accompanied by her mother and siblings.

Neighbour Priya Varadarajan said her children played with the Veillette children in their adjoining back yards.

"They were sweet angels," she said.

Ferrari-Veillette, who worked part-time at Colors Cafe in a mall in town, often volunteered for cafeteria duty at Mason Heights Elementary school. Staff there described her as enthusiastic and vibrant.

Grief counsellors would be available at the school Monday, Mason City School District spokeswoman Tracey Carson said.

The family spoke both French and English and Marguerite was studying Spanish, Mason Heights Principal Eric Messer said.

"Her mother was an amazing parent. Everyone is in shock," he said. "It's such a tragedy.

Mason is about 30 kilometres northeast of Cincinnati.

-With files from The Canadian Press.

 
 
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