NORTH LAWRENCE, N.Y. (WPIX) -- A former volunteer firefighter is behind bars accused of doing the unthinkable: starting a fire that killed a mother and her three children inside their apartment in North Lawrence.
19-year-old Caleb Lacey, of Lawrence, was charged with first degree arson and four counts of second-degree murder. Lacey was reportedly arrested on Friday in connection with the fatal fire but so far, police have not yet released a motive for the crime.
Morena Vanegas, 46, and her daughters Andrea,13 and Susana 9 and her son Saul Preza,19, died inside their second-floor apartment when the fire broke out on Feb. 19. Authorities say the fire reportedly started in a stairwell, the main escape route from the building.
Lacey, who was apparently a neighbor of the victims, was a member of the Lawrence-Cedarhurst Volunteer Fire Department. Sources told the NY Post Lacey doused the apartment stairwell in a flammable liquid, ignited it and then rushed to the firehouse to wait for the call.
"This kid set the fire because of vanity," said Nassau Detective Lt. Kevin Smith. "He wanted to be the hero."
Lacey will be arraigned Saturday in First District Court in Hempstead.
Ex-Volunteer Firefighter Charged in Deadly LI Blaze
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