Woman Ordered To Stand Trial In Deadly Boarding House Fire

PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – A Pittsburgh woman has been ordered to stand trial in a boarding house fire that killed its owner and two other residents, even though her confession of how she allegedly started the blaze differed from scientific evidence found at the scene.

Latoya Lyerly is charged with criminal homicide and arson in the Feb. 17, 2016 blaze on North Lang Avenue in Homewood.

Derlyn Vance owned the house and died, along with two residents, Gerald Johnson and Calvin Turner.

At first, Lyerly denied starting the fire, but investigators say she later confessed.

Detectives testified at Friday’s hearing that Lylerly, who was the live-in housekeeper, said she had an argument with Vance over a loud radio.

Authorities say she threatened to burn the house down. That’s when she told detectives she was on a mission and three male residents had to die. Investigators say Lylerly claimed she heard voices and the house was “filled with demons.”

She accused the residents of shooting heroin, smoking crack and soliciting prostitutes, authorities said.

A detective testified Friday that Lyerly told her she lit paper cups on fire and used them to ignite chairs and a couch.

Earlier in Lyerly’s preliminary hearing, an arson investigator said the fire was started by someone who poured gasoline or kerosene around a mattress and some stairs.

Her public defender declined to comment after the hearing.

Lyerly is being held in the Allegheny County Jail.

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(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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