A Michigan woman has been arrested on suspicion that she ignited a house fire that killed three people, including two young children.
As the Associated Press reports, Abbieana Williams has been charged with arson and murder in connection to the September 3 fire that killed 8-year-old Aston Griffin, 4-year-old Jesse Kline IV, and their grandmother Melissa Westen at Westen’s home in Lansing.
According to an arrest affidavit obtained by the Lansing State Journal, Williams, 21, told police that she did not set the fire at 1450 Elizabeth Street the night of the fatal blaze. But witness statements, the suspect’s own phone messages, and additional evidence appear to strongly implicate Williams in the arson deaths.
Though Williams denied being at the address on September 3, a friend told police he drove her there and overheard Williams making a threatening statement over the phone on the ride over: “I hope your mama likes burning alive.”
The friend told police that Williams was angry at her boyfriend, Westen’s son, because she believed he had cheated on her, according to the affidavit.
Williams allegedly sent a similar message in a text to her boyfriend the night the house went up in flames.
“I’m outside your mom’s house…I hope your mom likes being burned alive,” Williams wrote, according to the affidavit.
Minutes before police say Abbieana Williams set a fire that killed her boyfriend's mother and two nephews, she texted him, according to court records.
— Matt Miller (@MattMillerLSJ) September 18, 2020
Just minutes before the home erupted in flames, another witness said they saw Williams in the immediate vicinity of the home. That witness, a neighbor of Westen’s, reportedly told police that Williams asked them for a lighter and walked in the direction of Westen’s home. Less than four minutes later, the home was on fire.
The neighbor reportedly told police that the lighter is distinctive, and that he saw Williams’ boyfriend with what appeared to be the same lighter after the fire. The report does not indicate exactly when or where the neighbor encountered the suspect’s boyfriend with the lighter.
The affidavit also alleges that Williams was captured on surveillance video walking back and forth on Elizabeth street between 11:25 p.m. and 11:38 p.m. The fire department received a call about the house fire at 11:45 p.m.
According to the report, investigators initially believed the fire had not been intentionally set, but further evidence collected during the investigation pointed to arson.
According to WLNS, Williams remains in custody.
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