The deaths of two men who perished in an East Side rooming house fire last fall has turned out to be a double homicide, and a 40-year-old woman has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of second-degree arson, police said Monday.
City fire marshals recently received test results back from evidence they collected at 392 Curtiss St., a few blocks from the Central Terminal, and determined the fire was intentionally set by Al-Shariyfa Robinson.
A motive for the early morning Oct. 10 arson has not been released, but police said the arson was related to a “domestic” situation.
James Hodges, 64, and Edward Hughes, 58, died in the swift-moving fire that was reported about 4:35 a.m.
Hodges and Hughes, longtime friends, had managed to make it to a rear door but were unable to exit the building. Hodges, who had previously suffered a stroke, had difficulty walking, and Hughes relied on a wheelchair to get around, authorities said. Nine other people managed to flee unharmed.
Firefighters had entered the 2½-story, wood-frame building to try and rescue the two men, but the fierce heat and smoke forced them to leave the building and douse the flames before re-entering.
“The lab report on the evidence secured by the fire marshals showed the fire was intentionally set,” said Capt. Joseph A. Gramaglia of the Buffalo Police Department’s Homicide Squad, commending the fire marshals for their work.
Robinson, who is being held without bail at the Erie County Holding Center, is scheduled to appear in Buffalo City Court for a felony hearing on Feb. 22.