Woman Pleads Guilty to Arson That Killed 3 Delaware Firefighters

Beatriz Fana-Ruiz pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, arson and assault. She now faces up to life in prison

A Delaware woman has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and other crimes in a residential arson that left three firefighters dead.

Beatriz Fana-Ruiz pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count each of second-degree murder, arson and assault. She faces at least 17 years in prison when sentenced in December.

Fana-Ruiz, 30, had been charged with six counts of first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence, as well as assault, three counts of arson, and nine counts of reckless endangering.

Her plea came just days after a judge set restrictions on expert testimony regarding whether a confession Fana-Ruiz gave investigators was false or coerced. The judge also noted in his ruling that there was no basis to conclude that authorities violated her Miranda rights.

Lt. Christopher Leach and Senior Firefighter Jerry Fickes of the Wilmington Fire Department died at the scene of the September 2016 row house fire after the first floor of the home collapsed. Senior Firefighter Ardythe Hope was hospitalized in critical condition for several weeks before she died.

A fourth firefighter was also injured.

Fana-Ruiz is the daughter of the homeowner and was a temporary resident at the time of the fire.

Attorney General Kathleen Jennings’ office said in a statement that officials met with families of the victims before the plea deal with Fana-Ruiz.

“While her motivation in setting the fire was a reaction to her living conditions and was not intended to physically harm anyone, her actions were reckless, dangerous, and tragically, fatal,” the statement read.

Authorities said Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have filed a detainer against Fana-Ruiz, seeking her deportation to her home country of the Dominican Republic when she is released from custody.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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