UPDATE: Deadly Long Branch fire was ‘not accidental,’ authorities say
Authorities in Monmouth County confirmed Wednesday the fire that killed a family of four in Long Branch "does not appear to be accidental."
The two-alarm blaze killed Lyndon “Shane” Beharry, 35 - a 16-year employee of the Long Branch Public Works Department - Amanda Morris, 29, and their sons, Brandon Beharry, 7 and Brian Beharry, 4.
"The cause and manner of death for each of the victims will be determined by a post-mortem examination by the medical examiner’s office," Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said in a press release Wednesday night.
At a press conference Wednesday morning, Monmouth County First Assistant Prosecutor Marc LeMieux also told members of the press that the deadly Joline Avenue blaze was being investigated and likely was "not accidental."
“We are not ruling out the potential that there was a homicide and then an ultimate suicide, at this point, however I cannot confirm that at this time,” LeMieux said. “If it’s considered a homicide and a suicide, then it would be the person that was inside the home that would have committed that."
A cousin of Lyndon "Shane" Beharry was alarmed by the suggestion that it could be a murder-suicide. "We were like brothers. We would go to the water parks with the kids on the weekends. I don't know how they could say this. They lived very happily," Ronald Beharry, who was also a neighbor, told the Asbury Park Press.
According to Gramiccioni's press release, Long Branch firefighters responded to multiple 911 calls at 11:48 p.m. reporting a fire at 245 Joline Ave. In addition to crews from the Long Branch Fire Department, fire personnel Long Branch, West Long Branch, Sea Bright, Oakhurst, Oceanport and Eatontown also responded to help battle the blaze.
"The fire was quickly suppressed. Once able to enter the home firefighters from the Long Branch Fire Department discovered the four individuals inside a second floor bedroom of the home. All four were transported to Monmouth Medical Center, where despite life-saving efforts all died," Gramiccioni said. "The origin and cause of the fire remains under investigation, but it does not appear to be accidental."
Anyone with any information is urged to call Detective Pamela Ricciardi, of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at 1-800-533-7443 or Detective Rich O’Brien of the Long Branch Police Department at 732-222-1000. The investigation is being led by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Meghan Doyle.
Dan Alexander contributed to this report.