Police seeking information on deadly Camden fire

The rowhouse on Thurman Street in Camden, where two teenagers were killed in a fire June 29. A man was photographed walking nearby just before the blaze started.
The rowhouse on Thurman Street in Camden, where two teenagers were killed in a fire June 29. A man was photographed walking nearby just before the blaze started.
Posted: March 09, 2013

On an early June morning when two teenagers died trying to escape an inferno at a Camden rowhouse, a hooded man was captured on video walking toward the home and then running away.

Shortly afterward, the fire erupted.

Police are trying to identify the person recorded on a corner-store surveillance video on Thurman Street about 5:08 a.m. June 29, less than a half-hour before the fire was reported. The fire moved so quickly that teenagers Kenny Holmes Jr. and his girlfriend, Qua'Nyrah Houston, both 15, were overcome and trapped. Their bodies were found near the front door.

An adult escaped by jumping out a second-story window.

"We have two young people who were killed and two families who would like to know what happened, what caused their deaths," said Jason Laughlin, a spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.

On Thursday, officials posted two excerpts of the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DArC0DBI_Mw and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AX2W9giWjF4

Shortly after the fire, a police dog detected an accelerant at the scene, officials said. No evidence was found of an electrical fire or an accidental cause.

Laughlin said the fire was suspicious, but investigators had not ruled it an arson because lab tests of charred debris have been inconclusive.

Relatives of the victims have said they do not believe the fire was an accident.

The teens were popular student athletes who focused on their studies and future. He played basketball at Camden High School. She ran track at Woodrow Wilson High School.

Around midnight, Houston sneaked out of her house to be with Holmes. The two fell asleep in the living room.

On June 28, Holmes' father, Kenneth, had been arrested on a domestic violence charge. A girlfriend had found him in bed with another woman and alleged that Holmes pulled a gun on her, Holmes has said. He was in jail the night of the fire. The girlfriend later recanted, and the charges were dropped.

"Due to the surrounding circumstances, we're investigating this as a crime," Laughlin said.

The Prosecutor's Office is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for the fire. Anyone with information is asked to contact Camden County Prosecutor's Office Sgt. Eric Wren at 856-225-8400. Information may also be e-mailed to ccpotips@ccprosecutor.org.


Contact Barbara Boyer at 856-779-3838, bboyer@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @BBBoyer.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|