Charges Upgraded for New Orleans Father in Deadly House Fire That Claimed Lives of His Three Kids
A New Orleans East house fire suspect faces court and upgraded charges as he is accused of setting the deadly blaze that claimed the lives of three of his own children.
Joseph Washington, the man implicated in a tragic New Orleans East house fire that claimed the lives of three children, made his appearance in magistrate court late last week. According to sources, Washington now faces heightened charges including three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of cruelty to a juvenile, and one count of aggravated arson.
Ring camera footage captures the chilling moment the house ignites, followed by Washington fleeing the scene. His apprehension came after a dramatic sequence of events, which saw him drive his vehicle into the Mississippi River near the Gretna Ferry Terminal and then leap from an overpass.
In a devastating development in the Plum Orchard neighborhood of New Orleans East, a father has been taken into custody following the tragic loss of three children in a house fire. According to Fox 8 Live, The incident occurred in the early hours of Wednesday, Oct. 18 on the 4900 block of America Street.
Authorities report that the 29-year-old father, Joseph Washington, allegedly ignited the fire at the residence of his ex-wife. She was not home during the incident but desperately contacted 911, reporting her ex-husband's threats to set the home on fire. Her distressing plea to the dispatcher echoed the chilling background sounds of her children’s cries for help and the frantic shouts of their father.
When first responders arrived at the scene, they were met with a house consumed by flames. Firefighters immediately engaged in rescue operations, pulling a 5-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy from the inferno. Despite their best efforts to revive the siblings, both tragically succumbed to their injuries at a local hospital.
As the firefighters continued to control the fire, they discovered the lifeless body of a 3-year-old boy inside the home.
Preliminary investigations suggest this horrific event stemmed from a domestic dispute. Surveillance footage from a neighboring property showed a person, believed to be Washington, exiting the rear of the burning home, subsequently driving away in a vehicle.
Troy McDonnell, the children’s grandfather, made an impassioned plea for his son to surrender. His voice filled with anguish, he exclaimed, “Joseph! Turn yourself in, Joseph! And that ain’t no lie. Turn yourself in and call me! Turn yourself in!”
Later, Joseph Washington's vehicle was found partially submerged in the Mississippi River near Gretna. In a dramatic capture, Washington was apprehended after he allegedly jumped from an interstate overpass during a police chase.
He now faces a slew of charges, including three counts of second-degree murder.
New Orleans Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick expressed her condolences to the grieving mother. The community, still in shock, has begun paying tributes, leaving candles, flowers, and balloons outside the family's home.
Local resident, Bertrand Williams, reflecting the sentiments of many, stated, "Those kids were so young. His own children. It was just so evil what was displayed here. I just had to come out."
Grief counselors will be available at the school the children attended to support their classmates during this traumatic time. The NOPD’s Child Abuse unit is currently leading the investigation. Anyone with relevant information is urged to come forward.
See the full story as the investigation continues at Fox 8 Live.