A New Jersey man was arrested Monday for allegedly setting his family home on fire, killing his infant daughter and her grandparents.
Michael Sanders, 23, is facing charges of aggravated assault, aggravated arson and causing widespread injury or damage.
The incident took place Friday at approximately 3:40 a.m. when Sanders set his family’s duplex on the 200 block of Woodlawn Avenue in Hamilton Township ablaze, said police, according to NBC Philadelphia.
According to the police, Sander’s 9-month-old daughter Malani Sanders and her 42-year-old grandmother Tiffany Abrams-Jones were found dead at the scene. Three others were taken to a hospital with severe burn injuries, reported WPVI.
Malani’s grandfather, 50-year-old Prince Jones, succumbed to his injuries Sunday. The infant’s mother, who was also present in the house, and one other person sustained critical injuries, said authorities.
A witness told the detectives that Sanders allegedly sent his daughter’s mother a text message earlier Friday and asked her to get their child out of the house, WPVI reported.
On the day of the incident, Sanders was seen wearing a dark-colored sweatshirt, a mask and white gloves. According to investigators, He took a taxi from Trenton and was dropped off near the home on Woodlawn Avenue about 15 minutes before the fire started.
Detectives gathered video evidence from a gas station where Sanders was caught on surveillance camera buying flammable liquid and cigars about 10 minutes before he committed the alleged crime, reported the New York Post.
Tenants living in the adjacent semi-detached home where the fire spread could escape the blaze due to smoke alarms. “The tenant called me, one of them called me, and told me that the house is on fire so I came right away but it’s unbelievable,” Joseph Shamma, the landlord of the house, told WPVI.
The prosecutor’s office has filed a motion to detain Sanders pending trial.
“It’s very hard, it’s terrible,” Shamma said to WPVI. “My heart goes out to the family. I mean I see them every day. We weren’t pals but they were regular people…it’s horrible.”
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call HTF Detective Jennifer Eyster at 609-989-6406.