Pennsylvania Grandfather Kills Son and Grandchildren in Murder-Suicide Fire: Police08/11/2021
“What was in his mind when he decided to eliminate his family, I don’t know.”
A Pennsylvania fire that killed four family members of three generations has been ruled a murder-suicide — and the grandfather the one responsible.
Jafar Afshar, 67, his 36-year-old son Saeed, and Saeed’s 8 and 5-year-old son and daughter — identified as Darius and Zipporah — all died in a blaze at their home early Friday morning.
On Tuesday, Dauphin County Coroner Graham Hetrick revealed horrific details about the fire, claiming Jafar had doused the apartment in accelerant while everyone else was asleep, before igniting it.
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According to Penn Live, the family lived above a convenience store in a two-story brick building on South Front Street; the fire was first noticed at 6 AM by neighbors and passers-by, who immediately called 911 and began banging on windows and ringing the doorbell to try to alert anyone inside. Nobody could get inside, as the only exit or entrance was a single steel deadbolted door.
Police arrived first, but lacking firefighting equipment, were unable to immediately gain access to the second floor; so they broke into the convenience store and found a dolly, which they then used to pry open the steel door.
Running upstairs, they opened the door to the apartment, but were forced back by the flames and smoke. Firefighters arrived five minutes later and began dousing the flames — but it was too late to save anybody. Four bodies were later recovered.
According to the coroner, the positions of the bodies and burn patterns led to the conclusion the fire had been intentionally started; the three younger victims were found together, while the grandfather was found in the same room, but separate from them.
Hetrick said all four died of burns and smoke inhalation. There were no signs of any other trauma.
He said that because all the doors and windows were closed, the fire’s progress would have been slowed due to lack of oxygen, and the victims likely died of smoke inhalation in their sleep without ever realizing the home was ablaze.
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There were no signs anyone had tried to escape.
“I think this (the deaths) happened quickly,” he said. “I think there was a large amount of smoke.”
While Hetrick did not reveal a motive, he said “there had been indications of abnormal behavior” from the grandfather beforehand, but did not elaborate any further.
“What was in his mind when he decided to eliminate his family, I don’t know,” he said.
“It’s horrible,” he added. “I helped carry out one of the dead children.”
According to Penn Live, Saeed Afshar was involved in the 2017 robbery of a man, 22-year-old Kodi Flanagan, that turned fatal.
He served as a key prosecution witness, testifying that he did not know a gun would be involved or that anyone would be killed. Afshar was not charged, while the killer, 24-year-old Sidney Michaels, was sentenced to life in prison.
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