Coroner identifies one victim in deadly Metairie fire, 2 remain unnamed

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Courtesy: | The Times-Picayune
Courtesy: | The Times-Picayune

METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - Officials with the Jefferson Parish coroner's office have identified one of three victims killed last week in a deadly Metairie fire.

Jeffery Evans, 58, was found dead in the Metairie apartment complex on June 10.

The names of the other two victims have not been released as officials are attempting to contact the victims' relatives, according to Mark Bone with the Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office.

The fire broke out just before 3 a.m. on June 10 at an apartment complex in the 2300 block of Harvard Avenue and was confined to one unit, officials said. It was under control by 3:09 a.m.

Investigators found evidence of an accelerant near the area where it started, according to Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office spokesman Cmdr. John Fortunato.

Deputies say that a 58-year-old Terrill Normand is being investigated as a 'person of interest' in the deadly blaze. Normand is being held on an outstanding attachment.

Officials say that Normand had an infatuation with one of the fire victims. Investigators are testing Normand's clothing to determine if he's responsible for the blaze.

Detectives say Normand has been linked to the area at the time of the fire by several pieces of evidence found. Normand invoked his right to a lawyer while being questioned.

He has not been charged with anything relating to the fire at this time.

Fortunato said a preliminary investigation by homicide detectives showed the three bodies inside the apartment were that of a white female believed to be in her early 40s, a white male in his early 30s and Jeffry Evans, 58. The surviving male victim is a 44-year-old black male, who owns the apartment.

Fortunato said the apartment owner woke up and was told there was smoke and fire at the front door and in the staircase of the apartment. When he and the others realized the exit was blocked, the four victims went into a second-floor bedroom. The surviving victim jumped out of the window, thinking the others would follow, Fortunato said. However, they never made it out.

Three neighboring apartments sustained smoke and water damage, but the residents were able to get out thanks to smoke detectors that alerted them to the fire.

One neighbor said he gave food to the victims on a regular basis.

"I used to, at least three times a week, feed them, because I have a friend that lives in an apartment that would give me meals to give to them," said Rumney Powell. "Actually one of the guys - the one who jumped out the window - day before yesterday I gave him, like, 24 canned goods. They just, you know, they seemed like they were on some type of fixed income."

Nine fire units with 44 personnel responded. Officials with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office and the state Fire Marshal were also on scene.

A K-9 unit is trying to determine if accelerants were used and the area is being treated as a crime scene, which is standard procedure.

"It's a very sad situation," said State Fire Marshal Butch Browning. "Three people perished this morning from the fire. We take this very seriously. We're going to work very closely with local partners - Jefferson Parish Fire Department, the Sheriff's Office - to try to determine what happened. Right now it's really preliminary. We're reconstructing the fire scene."

If you know anything that might help investigators solve this crime, you can call the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office at 504-364-5300 or you can go to the State Fire Marshall's Office website by clicking here.

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