Police: Man charged with arson in fatal Schenectady fire

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SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – Schenectady Police and Fire investigators remain on scene of a home on Hulett Street Friday gathering evidence after a suspect was arraigned on arson charges in the deadly fire that killed four.

The Schenectady Police Department arrested 27-year-old Robert Butler, of Saratoga Springs, in connection with the fatal fire that occurred Thursday at 438 Hulett Street in the city, killing three children and their father.

Butler was arraigned in Schenectady City Court Friday morning for a felony charge of first-degree arson. Court documents allege Butler used some form of liquid accelerant on the front staircase leading to the second floor apartment, causing the fire that quickly spread.

Police say Butler is known to the residents of the second floor, where the family lived. They will not go into further detail about that relationship, as the investigation is continuing.

Three children were killed in the blaze; 11-month-old Donovan Duell, 2-year-old Michael Terry and 3-year-old Layah Terry. Their father, 32-year-old David Terry, was also killed.

A fourth child, 5-year-old Safyre Terry, was air lifted to a burn center in Westchester after the fire. She remains in critical condition Friday.

Neighbors tell the NEWS CENTER the tragic house fire doesn't seem real. They call the family kind, compassionate and loving. A makeshift memorial has been set up outside the home.

“I can't imagine it but I'm living it. Right now,
the fear them babies must have felt, it's indescribable. There is no word,”
said Elizabeth Dolder.

Elizabeth Dolder was David Terry's sister, a man she
calls a dedicated, loving father working to turn his life around and do right
by his children.

“He loved his children so much. He was a great dad,
a great dad. He would have saved those babies if he could. That man had to do
something. He had to have disabled my brother in some way,” said Dolder.

A small makeshift memorial is now close to the home where
family, friends and neighbors continue to come together and grieve.
Investigators also remain at the scene searching through the debris for evidence
that can help them piece together exactly what happened. Dolder tells the NEWS
CENTER Butler was the ex-boyfriend of the children's mother and had recently
been kicked out of the Hulett Street home by her brother. 

McCracken “He was known to the residents, the exact
relationship we're not willing to discuss right now,” said Lt. Mark McCracken
of Schenectady police.

 

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