Port Kaituma man accused of killing wife, children in fire succumbs

Linus La Cruz and his family in happier times

Fifty-year-old Linus La Cruz who had been accused of setting his Port Kaituma home on fire, causing the death of his wife and four children, died yesterday morning at the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPH) .

La Cruz was admitted to the GPH on March 18 after he suffered burns to his body during the fire. Sources say La Cruz contracted pneumonia after the fire and this is believed to have resulted in his death.

The charred remains of his wife Lurlene La Cruz, 39; and children, Lea La Cruz, 14; Labron La Cruz, 8; Lavette La Cruz, 3, and Levon La Cruz, 1 were buried on March 18 as well.

The man’s 12-year-old daughter, who managed to escape from the fire is presently staying with one of his relatives, this newspaper was told.

Linus La Cruz and his family in happier times
Linus La Cruz and his family in happier times

Director of the Child Protection Agency, Ann Greene said the agency has taken on the matter and is in the process of conducting investigations. She declined to give any further information on the matter.

While at the GPH, La Cruz was kept under police guard and was heavily shackled when he arrived at the Ogle International airport from Port Kaituma. He was expected to be arraigned at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court on five counts of murder when he recovered.

Carl Innis, La Cruz’s brother said the man was expected to attend court on Thursday but that was postponed to a later date because he was not fit to appear. He added that a friend of his visited La Cruz at the hospital on Thursday and he was informed by his friend that La Cruz’s condition appeared to be deteriorating.

He added that when La Cruz was admitted to the GPH, doctors had planned on performing a surgery but because of his failing lungs that was postponed until his condition had improved. Innis said La Cruz was on a life support machine shortly before his death.

On the evening of March 14, La Cruz is believed to have locked the grill barricades to his home before setting the fire. Reports were that he had been drinking at a shop in the village prior to setting the fire and it was believed that his wife was stabbed before the house was lit on fire.

He reportedly told police after the fire that financial stress led to his actions.

There were also reports of a poor response by the police to the plea by the lone survivor of the fire for help on the March 14. It was reported that after the survivor went to the police station located not far from her home and got no response from police officers, she ventured to a church that is located across the street from their home.

She told church member, Grace Fraser that her father was threatening to set the house afire and Fraser accompanied her to the police station. By the time officers responded, the house was already on fire.


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