A Washington couple is suspected of arson and murder after allegedly setting fire Saturday morning to their former landlord’s home — killing a young boy and girl in the ensuing blaze, according to multiple reports.
Kim Hughes, 32, and 24-year-old Jaramy Chism have not officially been charged but are being held on $2 million bail in connection with the deadly fire in Skagit County, Washington, according to jail records and local TV station KING.
The children’s mother, Jessica Starr, was also reportedly hospitalized after she was injured while trying to escape the burning home with her kids, a 6-year-old boy and 8-year-old girl.
They did not make it out alive.
Starr’s boyfriend, Bryan Bachofer, told investigators that Hughes had allegedly threatened them days before the fire, saying, “I will sue you or burn your house down,” according to TV stations KCPQ and KOMO.
Hughes and Chism were reportedly evicted from the home last Tuesday. Chism had recently worked for the children’s father but been fired, the dad told police, the Associated Press reports.
“She [Hughes] knew where everyone slept,” a friend of the mother told KING of one of the suspects. “She lived in that house a week before that. She got in a fight with people who lived there and got kicked out … after that, they were homeless.”
Defense attorneys, who could not immediately be reached for comment, described the evidence as “pretty slim,” according to KING. They said Chism and Hughes deny the accusations, according to the AP.
The fire broke out around 2 a.m., with authorities battling it until dawn, according to the AP and KING.
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Five people were in the home at the time, including Starr, who according to the TV station told police she fell through a second-story window while trying to save her children. The other two adults in the home, including Bachofer, were also injured.
“I think about their mom laying in the hospital, with her kids gone — for nothing,” their friend told KING.
Hughes was previously convicted of arson in 2014, KCPQ and KING report.
Following the fire, authorities found her and Chism in a tent in nearby Sedro Woolley, Washington, according to KCPQ. Both claimed they were asleep when the fire broke out. However, investigators found a gas can in the back seat of their vehicle and officials determined that gas was also used in the fire.
“You have small children involved, it tugs at your heartstrings,” Skagit County Prosecutor Rich Weyrich said, according to KCPQ.
Jail records show that Hughes and Chism were both arrested on Saturday on suspicion of two counts of murder and one count of arson each. All in the first degree. Authorities are expected to file formal charges by Wednesday.
A GoFundMe has been set up to benefit the victims.