KANSAS CITY, Mo. â€”A Kansas City woman has been charged with starting an Oct. 12 fire that resulted in the deaths of two Kansas City firefighters.
Thu Hong Nguyen, 43, is charged with first-degree arson and two counts of murder in the deaths of Larry Leggio and John Mesh.
Leggio and Mesh died when the burning mixed-use building at Independence and Prospect avenues collapsed. Two other firefighters were injured.
According to court records, investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined that the fire started in the northeast corner of the LN Salon and Spa, which operated there. They said it appeared to have been deliberately set.
Investigators said Nguyen told them that she left the salon on the night of the fire, but they later determined through surveillance footage from nearby buildings that that Nguyen was the last person out of the salon at 7:12 p.m. The first signs of smoke were visible about 10 minutes later.
Nguyen also told investigators that she has received insurance proceeds from other recent fires, including one in the same building in January. A fire in Lee’s Summit in 2013 damaged a nail salon where Nguyen had a work station.
According to court records, investigators said Nguyen bought four bottles of acetone and four bottles of isopropyl alcohol, both of which are ignitable, on the day of the fire. Police said she also told them about cellphone calls which did not match the records on her phone.
Nguyen was arrested Monday evening. Her bail has been set at $2 million.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Nguyen’s murder charges are because the firefighters died as the result of another crime, arson.
The Kansas City Fire Department said it could not comment on the case because it is an ongoing investigation. Baker said the families of the victims have asked for privacy and do not wish to make any statements at this time.
“They very much want you to respect their privacy. They’re really struggling with the news that they received today,” she said.
Kansas City Fire Chief Paul Berardi praised the work of the ATF investigators, who have now ended their field work on the case.
“The expertise of the ATF was very welcome and very needed during the investigation of this fire,” he said. “There’s a long way to go, and we know that. And we’re going to be working at it every step of the way.”
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*article credit to KMBC News 9