Woman, four children laid to rest after Port Kaituma arson

-church flooring collapses during funeral ceremony

The remains of the five La Cruz family members were divided between two caskets.

Lurlene La Cruz and her four children who perished in last Friday’s arson at Port Kaituma were yesterday laid to rest.

Alleged arsonist, Linus La Cruz, the dead woman’s husband was also transferred to the Georgetown Public Hospital yesterday morning for further treatment for the burns sustained about his body, sources say.

Residents yesterday turned out in large numbers to attend the funeral of Lurlene La Cruz, 39; Lea La Cruz, 14; Labron La Cruz, 8; Lavette La Cruz, 3, and Levon La Cruz, 1. Their charred remains were buried in two caskets. Lurlene La Cruz was placed in a casket with the remains of two of her children while her other two children were placed in another casket.

The remains of the five La Cruz family members were divided between two caskets.
The remains of the five La Cruz family members were divided between two caskets.

Family members told this newspaper that during the funeral ceremony, a large portion of the Port Kaituma One Mile Church flooring collapsed. Roxanne Dass, La Cruz’s sister said  “Luckily no one ain’t get injured. I was inside the church and I just hear the screaming and when I come out, I see the floor for the church from half way inside to the front steps collapse.”

Linus and Lurlene La Cruz and three of their five children.
Linus and Lurlene La Cruz and three of their five children.

Meanwhile, at the Port Kaituma Airport, Linus La Cruz was heavily shackled and escorted by police ranks onto a small aircraft at around 8:15am before arriving at the Ogle International Airport.

He was dressed in hospital clothing and was wheeled off to an ambulance to be taken to seek additional medical attention this newspaper was told. He is expected to be charged for arson and five counts of murder soon, this paper was informed.

Family members of the dead woman had told this newspaper that post-mortem results stated that La Cruz was stabbed prior to being burnt while her four children died of smoke inhalation and burns.

Linus’ brother, Carl Innis said he was the last person the businessman, who operated a hardware shop in front of his house, spoke to prior to the fire. He added that the man did not show any signs of anger when they spoke to each other.

The only child of the family who survived had gone to the police station located nearby the family’s home to report that her parents were having an argument and her father had threatened to burn their home down. Reports surfaced that police officer(s) on duty at the time did not respond to the child and the child subsequently went to a church nearby her home and told congregation member, Grace Fraser what had transpired. Fraser had subsequently accompanied the child to the station and it was a few moments after, Fraser and officers at the station observed that the house was on fire.

This newspaper was told that at the time of the fire, only one police officer was on duty. The others were sleeping. Residents said they believe lives could have been saved if the police had responded to the child’s

Children who attended school with some of the La Cruz siblings who perished in the fire.
Children who attended school with some of the La Cruz siblings who perished in the fire.

complaint in a timely manner.

First from left Wilma Dass, the dead woman’s mother and her sister, Roxanne Dass
First from left Wilma Dass, the dead woman’s mother and her sister, Roxanne Dass

Resident and former Member of Parliament, Richard Allen expressed thanks to the residents of the community who formed bucket brigades to put out the fire. He said since the community does not have a fully functioning fire station, other buildings, including the police station could have caught afire if residents had not participated in the quelling of the blaze. (Erica Williams)

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