Police: Woman Sets Dog On Fire, Accidentally Kills Kids
Case Is 15 Years Old
POSTED: 12:45 pm EST February 16, 2005
PITTSBURGH -- Investigators in Pittsburgh say they have solved a nearly 15-year-old case in which a woman and her friend allegedly set the family dog on fire because the woman's mother wouldn't get rid of it.
The dog, in turn, wound up setting the house on fire, killing the woman's two toddlers.
Cold-case detectives haven't said exactly what broke the case against the mother, 34-year-old Tequilla Newsome, and her friend, 29-year-old Lachan Russell. Russell was 15 at the time.
Cmdr. Maurita Bryant said the detectives reinterviewed about 20 witnesses in the case and at least one offered more details in recent weeks, after becoming older, wiser and more religious.
The fire, around 2:30 in the morning of July 11, 1990, killed 2-year-old Montelle Thornhill and 3-year-old Charita Thornhill.
Montelle was allergic to the dog, but his grandmother -- with whom the family lived -- refused to get rid of it, police said.
Newsome tried to shoo the dog from the home, but it wouldn't run away, Bryant said. Later, she took the dog to downtown Pittsburgh, but the animal found its way back to the house, several miles away. That's when, Bryant said, Newsome and Russell decided to douse the dog in kerosene and set it afire.