Death in Apricot Street fire treated as a homicide

Published: Aug. 3, 2012 at 9:43 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2012 at 9:43 PM CDT
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Cynthia Houston
Cynthia Houston

Police are treating the death of a 56-year-old former dispatcher for the New Orleans Fire Department as a homicide.

Ironically, a fire call around 5:00 Friday morning led to the discovery of Cynthia Houston's body in her Apricot Street home.

"Something happened and she didn't just die," said a family member at the scene.

Firefighters found Houston dead near her upstairs bedroom.

"All we know is they found her in the hall dead.  She'd been set on fire.  We know that, and part of her room was on fire," said Houston's brother Larry Franklin.

Police say accelerant was found around her body, and a red five-gallon gas can was found nearby.  Police sealed it in a metal drum as evidence and say they'll dust it for fingerprints.

"She was a diabetic and she was kind of sick," Franklin said.

Neighbor Richard Rosenfeld said Houston had people living with her and family members would come and go.  "She always had different people living here," he said.

Police say Houston had at least two people living in her home with her.  Police say one woman was burned and taken to a hospital.  Police say investigators interviewed the other resident.