3 teens being investigated for starting fire that killed Senegalese immigrants

National

DENVER (KDVR) — Denver police have arrested three people who they say started a fire that killed five people in Green Valley Ranch last August.

FOX31’s Deborah Takahara confirms that those three people are all teenage boys who are considered minors.

“These are the three individuals we believe are responsible for this horrific crime,” Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen said.

All three are being investigated on multiple charges including murder in the first degree with extreme indifference, attempted murder with extreme indifference, arson and burglary. (Scroll down for a full list of the charges)

“This is not over until they are sentenced for their crimes and this heinous crime in our city,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said.

Takahara also confirmed that a fourth person, an adult female, was arrested but it’s unclear what those charges pertain to. Sources say she is related to one of the three teens who were arrested.

The fire began just before 3 a.m. at 5312 N. Truckee St. on Aug. 5. An infant, toddler and three adults were killed.

The victims were identified as a married couple, 29-year-old Djibril Diol and 23-year-old Adja Diol, their daughter, 1-year-old Khadija Diol, a family member, 25-year-old Hassan Diol, and her 7-month-old daughter, Hawa Baye.

“We are grateful, but we are still in pain. Arrests have been made but it will not bring these beautiful people back,” Papa Dia, an African immigrant who’s acted as a spokesperson for the family, said.

Three other people — a man, woman and child — jumped from the second story of the burning home and survived.

Photos from the scene show the three suspects wearing dark hoodies and masks.

“This was as complex of an investigation as I’m aware of in my entire career,” Pazen said.

Initially there were concerns that this was a bias-motivated crime, but Pazen said there is no evidence that this is the case.

All three juveniles face the following charges:

  • Five counts of Murder in the First Degree, C.R.S.18-3-102 (1)(b) (Felony Murder), Class 1 Felonies
  • Five counts of Murder in the First Degree, C.R.S.18-3-102 (1)(d) (Extreme Indifference Murder), Class 1 Felonies; 
  • Three counts of Criminal Attempt Murder in the First Degree, 18-2-101(1)(d) (Extreme Indifference), Class 2 Felonies
  • Two counts of First-Degree Assault, C.R.S.18-3-202(1)(c) (Extreme Indifference), Class 3 Felonies
  • One count of First-Degree Burglary, 18-4-202(1), Class 3 Felony;
  • One count of Second-Degree Burglary, 18-4-203(2)(a), Class 3 Felony
  • Three counts of First-Degree Arson, C.R.S. 18-4-102(1), Class 3 Felonies
  • Eight counts of Fourth Degree Arson, C.R.S 18-4-105(1)(2), Class 4 Felonies.

Family members say they had started to lose hope after nearly six months of investigation.

Investigators declined to comment on what led to the arrest, but admitted it was a difficult investigation.

“The tough thing about fire scenes is that the evidence burns up,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge David Booth. “It was painstaking, and hundreds and hundreds of hours of work, to come to where we are today.” 

Booth and other investigators are releasing little information, saying they don’t want it to hinder prosecution.  

“There’s time when law enforcement thinks we’re at a dead end and we can’t figure this out. We get a break, we figure it out, it’s very gratifying,” he said. 

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