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House fire turns to murder investigation

'Person of interest' turns self in to authorities
September 9, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Four people have been found dead after a house fire in Lancaster.The fire was reported shortly after 7 a.m. on the 1500 block of East Avenue J-3. Firefighters doused the flames in about 20 minutes, but when they went inside they found the bodies of the four victims.

"Within 12 minutes they were able to knock the fire down. There was, in fact, a structure fire at the location. Once they had done so, they found that there were persons that had been killed inside," said Lt. Nelson.

Authorities say after investigating, they are dealing with a lot more than four people found dead in an unfortunate fire. They say they are dealing with murder.

Officials say they don't know whether the victims died in the fire, or prior to the blaze.

"We were able to determine that there is, in fact, a quadruple homicide here at the location," said Lieutenant Pat Nelson, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. "We do not have names yet for the victims, or any suspect information to provide. We're still working on that as we speak."

"There is visible trauma to the victims inside," added Lt. Nelson.

Detectives say the bodies were found in different rooms of the home. They say the victim's car was found about half a mile away. The front passenger window had been shattered. Authorities say the car is connected to the killings.

"That is a secondary scene that we are containing right now -- and how it got to that location, we have yet to determine. We don't know the extent of the connection, but obviously the car belongs to her and it's not there, " said Lt. Nelson.

According to neighbors, the occupants of the home are a mother and her three daughters. A close friend of the family says the sisters are between 8 and 13 years old. Authorities will not say if the occupants of the home were the victims found inside the home.

The husband and father of the victims, Gregory Stewart, has been near the burned home all day. Stewart said that to him, this is a horribly bad dream.

"All girls. They're 'A' students. They don't harm anyone. This is suspicious. And I got to admit ... they found my wife's car at Wal-Mart, she's in the house dead ... It's not adding up," said Stewart.

Stewart says he and his wife were separated and that his daughters were just 14, 12 and 8 years old. He says he can't imagine who would want to murder his family.

"Right now, it hasn't set in. I'm still in a world of disarray. I keep saying I'm going to wake up and everybody here is going to be a part of this dream," said Stewart.

Authorities say they are looking to question a man named Cory King. Neighbors told officials King, 18, left the home late Monday night. Authorities say they do not know if he has any connection to the incident, but he may provide them with information. Cory King turned himself in Tuesday afternoon and was reportedly being questioned by authorities.

Authorities say if you have any information you should call the L.A. County Sheriff's Department at (323) 890-5500.

The identities of the victims have not yet been released.

Officials continue to investigate the cause of the fire.

 

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