New Year's fire in Puerto Rico claims 6th victim

Associated Press Modified: January 29, 2011 at 4:52 pm •  Published: January 29, 2011
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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A sixth person died Saturday from a New Year's Day blaze that police say was set by one of her relatives as more than a dozen family members sat down for dinner.

Nereida Vazquez, who had been in an induced coma for weeks, died of a lung infection brought on by her injuries, according to a hospital statement.

She died two days after another burn victim, Pedro Sanchez, was released from the hospital. Vazquez's daughter, Patricia Sanchez, remains hospitalized and is receiving psychological care.

Authorities have accused Justino Sanchez Diaz of pouring gasoline on his family and then setting them ablaze with a torch Jan. 1.

In addition to Vazquez, the dead include the suspect's elderly mother; his teenage niece; his nephew, Jesus Sanchez; and Seattle resident Kate Donahue, who recently got engaged to Jesus Sanchez.

The last victim has been identified as Samuel Molina, whose relationship to Sanchez Diaz is not clear.

The relationship between Nereida Vazquez and Sanchez Diaz is also unknown; surviving family members have declined to talk to the media.

Sanchez Diaz has already been charged with five counts of murder.

It is unclear whether he has entered a plea or who his attorney is. The public defender's office in San Juan was closed Saturday and could not be reached for comment.

Police have not speculated as to a possible motive.


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