Watch CBSN Live

Police: Woman blames "demons" for alleged arson that killed 3

PITTSBURGH - Police have arrested a Pittsburgh woman for allegedly starting an early morning house fire that claimed the lives of three men Wednesday, reports CBS Pittsburgh.

Police say 42-year-old LaToya Lyerly admitted to starting the two-alarm fire that broke out around 6:20 a.m. Smoke first filled the house next door, which prompted the initial call to firefighters. When they arrived, the first and second floors of the home were on fire.

According to the police report, Lyerly told detectives she started living in the first floor of the home three weeks ago, in exchange for cooking and cleaning services. Several other people also stayed in the home, which neighbors say the owner opened up to people who were homeless.

"He helps a lot of homeless people. I mean, he's a good guy," Cohen Dioer, a neighbor, said of the owner.

Lyerly allegedly told police the home's owner argued with her about how loud a radio was Tuesday night, and then she threatened to burn the house down.

But, according to the police papers, she denied at first having started the fire, saying she left for cigarettes only to find the home on fire later.

As interviewing continued, police say Lyerly claimed that the house was filled with "demons," and that everyone inside the residence was involved in drugs and sex.

According to the police, she said she heard voices telling her to carry out her mission.

She allegedly set some paper coffee strainers on fire, then a chair and a couch before grabbing her coat and leaving.

Killed inside the home were 56-year-old Calvin Turner, 68-year-old Gerald Johnson and 73-year-old Darlyn Vance. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office determined all three died from smoke inhalation and burns to their bodies.

Last fall, Lyerly was at the center of a 12-hour manhunt after allegedly abducting her 5-year-old daughter, who lives with a foster family. At the time, Lyerly lived in McKeesport and police papers stated she had mental health issues.

Lyerly is charged with three counts of homicide, as well as a list of other charges.according to the paperwork.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue