Monday, March 05, 2018

WaPo article on 1958 fatal fire on the unit block of Quincy Place NW

Click on the link to read the entire Washington Post article:





More than three decades after investigators concluded a fire that killed a couple inside
their Eckington rowhouse was an accident caused by a carelessly discarded cigarette,
D.C. police said Monday the deaths have now been ruled homicides.

While no arrest was announced in the deaths of Bessie Mae Duncan, who was in her 40s,
and her husband, Roy R. Picott, 39, authorities said they are focusing on a serial arsonist,
Thomas Sweatt, who admitted setting a string of 45 fires in the D.C. region and pleaded guilty in 2005.

Sweatt, now 63, is serving a federal prison term of life with an additional 136 years.
Washington City Paper reported in 2007 that Sweatt confessed in a series of letters
to a reporter to setting fires for years longer than covered in his guilty plea,
including the one that killed the Eckington couple. The case was the focus of television crime
shows on truTV, Investigation Discovery Channels and as part of the Forensic Files series.

D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said Sweatt is the prime focus of the investigation.
He has not been charged in the deaths of Picott and Duncan, and authorities said
prosecuting a decades-old case could be difficult. Newsham said a detective in the
homicide unit’s cold-case squad revived the inquiry that led to the manner of death
being changed from accidental to homicide. The fire occurred Jan. 11, 1985, in a
house on Quincy Place NW, just off Florida Avenue. Duncan’s body was found in a
second-floor bedroom; Picott escaped but died at a hospital on March 5.
...


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