NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ A man has been indicted on federal charges that he set a fire to a house last year that killed three people, including an 8-year-old boy.
The indictment announced Thursday charges 26-year-old Hector Natal, of New Haven, with three counts of arson causing death, witness tampering and conspiracy to distribute drugs. His father, 50-year-old Hector Morales, was indicted on witness tampering and destruction of evidence charges in connection with the fire investigation.
Messages left with their attorneys weren’t immediately returned.
The March 9, 2011, fire in a multifamily home in the Fair Haven section of New Haven killed 42-year-old Wanda Roberson, her 8-year-old son Quayshawn, and her 18-year-old niece, Jaquetta Roberson.
The indictment alleges Natal set the fire in part as retaliation for failure to pay a drug debt but doesn’t indicate who Nadal had the alleged dispute with. It describes Natal as a crack cocaine and marijuana dealer and alleges his father served as his driver.
The indictment alleges Natal and Morales tried to intimidate witnesses into giving false and misleading testimony to the grand jury, including over Natal’s whereabouts at the time of the fire.
Natal admitted the arson on tape, prosecutors said in court last year. At that time, he had only been arrested on a drug charge.
Lynn Roberson, Wanda Roberson’s sister, welcomed that development at the time.
“The family is very happy they finally caught somebody,” she said. “We just want to make sure if anybody else was involved, we want to make sure they go down, too. My sister and my nephew and my niece didn’t deserve to die.”
A message left for Lynn Roberson on Thursday wasn’t immediately returned.
Natal’s relatives have denied he was responsible for the fire.
The fire also injured eight people, including some who jumped from windows to escape.
Witnesses described a chaotic scene of people trying to rescue residents from the burning building and comforting those who had escaped. Amateur video showed people passing young children down from windows.
Federal authorities offered a $25,000 reward for help solving the arson.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)