Evicted Tenants Threaten to Burn House Down. Then Homeowner’s Girls Die in House Fire

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Two young girls were killed in a house fire Saturday in Mount Vernon, Washington. Police believe that the fire was arson. Two suspects are in custody, and both were tenants who had lived with the homeowner just a week before. When they were evicted, they threatened to burn the house down.

A six-year-old, Xavier, and an eight-year-old, Rose, were the children of the homeowner.

Kimberly Marie Hughes, 32, and Jaramy L. Chism, 24, are charged with first degree arson and first degree murder. “I will sue you or burn your house down,” Hughes told the homeowners on July 8.

The fire began around 2:00 a.m. The family and another tenant were asleep inside.

Bryan Bachofer and Jessica Starr, attempted to rescue their children, but could not. Starr fell from a second story window in the children’s room. The injuries they sustained in the fire have left them hospitalized.

Hughes and Chism were apprehended after the fire, and they appeared in court Monday. Both have claim they are innocent. Making that case will be difficult, due to social media posts like this:

Yet Hughes has a history of arson, the Skagit County Public Defender’s Office said. She was convicted of second-degree arson in 2014.

“She stated she set her ex-boyfriend’s clothes on fire in a laundry basket. She stated she was mad at him for cheating on her,” the court wrote at the trial.

Hughes and Chism had been renting from Bachofer and Starr. A dispute about the renewal of the lease led to arguments.

“[Starr] was head-to-toe, [covered] in black soot,” Bob Eaton, who witnessed the fire, told KTVL.  “She was cut up really quite badly and burned. She was really in tough shape.”

Hughes and Chism were arrested a few hours after the fire. The pair were found asleep in a tent about 10 miles from the house.