Police boost reward in arson case that killed Safyre Terry’s family

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A 2013 fatal arson remains an open investigation that is completely unsolved, but officials are upping the ante in their search for justice.

On May 2, 2013, 32-year-old David Terry; his two children, 3-year-old Layah Terry and 2-year-old Michael Terry; and 11-month-old Donovan Duell were killed in the fire. His daughter Safyre was the only survivor. She was 5-years-old at the time.

Officials said David shielded Safyre from the flames.


Nearly three years after the fire, her family isn’t giving up on justice. Today, Safyre is in the care of her aunt Liz Dolder.

During a press conference on Monday, Dolder said she made two promises the day of the fire: she made a vow to her brother that she would take care of Safyre and she also promised to get justice.

“They all mattered to us,” Dolder said. “Somebody out there knows the truth. Please come forward. Please, even if you think that it’s just the littlest information, that could be huge. Anything. Please.”

Dolder made a plea to the public on Monday after the reward for information about the fire was increased.

The Mohawk Valley Crime Stoppers is giving $13,000 in reward money. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is giving $25,000, and Schenectady police and fire is giving $2,000.

The total reward is now at $40,000 in hopes that someone will come forward.
hulett st

hulett street fire arson schenectady 2013

James Glorioso with Mohawk Valley Crime Stoppers expects many calls will come in to the organization due to the reward increase.

“It’s not that they’re calling the police department; they’re calling a non-profit organization that manages the tips and sends those tips over to the police department, so we protect the anonymous portion of that tip,” he said.

But Safyre’s grandmother Shirley Armour said there’s someone who she believes knows exactly what happened. Safyre’s mother, Jennica Duell, is in jail on perjury charges. She accused of lying to a grand jury about the fire.

“I wish she would come up and speak more,” Armour said. “I really do. You know, even if she wants to write me a letter, I wouldn’t care. I would accept her letter, you know, because I’ve known Jennica for a long time, too.”

edward leon

Edward Leon was convicted of perjury for lying about his whereabouts the night of the fire.

Duell’s boyfriend, Robert Butler, was charged with arson but charges were later dropped when officers said evidence linked Leon to the crime.

Anyone with information about the fire should call the tip line at 1-866-730-8477 (TIPS).


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