|Article Last Updated: 5/06/2005 07:06 AM|
|Reward upped in arson that took lives of mom, boys|
|JOEL C. THOMPSON email@example.com|
|BRIDGEPORT — City and fire officials Thursday increased to $11,000 the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whomever set the fire at Colorado Avenue house that claimed the lives of a mother and her two young sons in late February.|
Tanechia Blackwood, 27, and sons Elija Boyd, 5, and Dwayne Dennis Jr., 4 months, died of asphyxia from smoke inhalation in their bedroom after fire ripped through the first floor of their home on Feb. 25.
"I hope this reward money will act as an incentive for someone who knows something or saw something that night to step forward," Mayor John M. Fabrizi said at a press conference outside the ruined house.
About 25 city firefighters, City Council President Andres Ayala, D-137; council member Rafael A. Mojica, D-131, and acting Police Chief Anthony Armeno joined the mayor in announcing the larger reward.
Firefighters later distributed reward fliers to homes throughout the neighborhood.
Fabrizi said he acted in response to a request from provisional Fire Chief Brian Rooney, asking for the initial $2,500 reward to be increased. That could help attract tips that could potentially solve the crime, he said.
The $11,000 reward now comprises the original $2,500 from the Connecticut Fair Plan program, $1,000 from Bridgeport Firefighters Union Local 834 and $7,500 in city funds, according to the mayor.
Half of the $7,500 will come from unexpended stipends of City Council members and the other half from the city budget, the mayor said.
Police Detective Kimberly Biehn and Fire Inspector Lorenzo Pitman, who are leading the probe, said investigators are working hard to solve the case.
"We are in it for as long as it takes," Delrissa Brown, Blackwood's aunt, said. "Justice needs to be served."
Rooney said an investigation by city and state fire investigators determined an accelerant was used to start the fire in the central hallway on the first floor of the three-story house.
"We have a couple of possible suspects. We're working on it every day," Rooney said. "We are offering the reward money hoping someone will come forward so that we can find out who is responsible for this tragedy."
The chief said the house was in foreclosure, but still insured when it was set ablaze. Tanechia Blackwood's father, Robert Blackwood, was the home's owner at the time of the fatal fire.
Lt. James Viadero, Police Department spokesman, said the three deaths have been ruled homicides under state law because they resulted from arson, regardless of the possible intent for setting the fire.
Anyone with information about the Colorado Avenue fire is asked to call 332-3071 or1-800-978-2828. All calls will be kept confidential.