Victims in fire now behind bars for arson - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/22/10

Victims in fire now behind bars for arson

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By Brittany Pieper  - bio | email

 LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - You can still smell smoke when you walk by apartment 810 at the Waterford Place Apartments. On January 12th fire fighters responded to a call at the complex around 9:40 p.m. Once they put out the blaze investigators started to look into what caused the fire and recently determined it was arson. "We have multiple points of origin in this particular case that are disconnected and unaccounted for in any kind of accidental way," said Assistant Fire Marshal Bob Bailey. 

Their investigation led them to believe the mother and daughter who lived in the apartment set the fire. When they arrested 37-year-old Bonnie Gonzales and her 19-year-old daughter Kayla on Thursday night, both admitted to their involvement. Because they set the fire in a place of residence, it's considered a 1st degree felony, and if convicted they face 5-99 years in prison.

The Fire Marshal's office says the two women received Victim's Assistance from the state, and that money was about to run out. They think the women set the fire in hopes of gaining financial assistance. "Neither had employment, and because of past histories we believe the motivation was probably to gain more public assistance," said Bailey. 

Now that the Fire Marshal has completed the investigation, the apartment complex can start the clean-up process. They must gut out the entire unit before they can start cleaning and rebuilding. It will take months and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

"We're happy that it wasn't something the property had caused, and also sad that someone would cause this type of damage with the possibility it could have seriously hurt a lot of people," said Property Manager, Laura Reeves. 

The apartment complex plans to contact the District Attorney's office and file a civil case in addition to the criminal charges.  Investigators are also looking into an incident in Amarillo with possible connections to these women, but those are still under investigation.

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