Father of baby who died in Hamilton, NJ arson texted warning, cops say
HAMILTON (Mercer) — The father of the nine-month-old who died in a duplex fire Friday texted the girl's mother to get out of the house before allegedly setting it on fire, according to prosecutors.
Michael Sanders, 23, of Trenton, was arrested on murder and arson charges Monday morning at a Plainsboro hotel.
Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri on Monday announced the death of a third person in the fire at the two-family duplex on Woodlawn Avenue in the early hours of Friday morning.
A nine-month-old girl, identified as Malani Sanders, and her grandmother, Tiffany Abrams-Jones, 42, were found dead in the house on Friday.
Prince Jones, 50, who had been hospitalized with burn injuries, died on Sunday. He was the child's grandfather.
Prosecutors said the baby's mother received a text from Sanders to get their child out of the house. Hours later, Sanders took a taxi from his Trenton home to one block from the duplex, according to Onofri.
Video security footage obtained by the prosecutor's office shows Sanders, wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and a mask, stopped at the Fast Trac Gas Station also on Greenwood Avenue about 10 minutes before the fire was reported. He purchased a dark colored torch lighter and cigars, police said.
Prosecutors said Sanders walked two blocks to the duplex. Four minutes later, the security camera caught the reflection of light from the fire, police said.
Other video captured Sanders walking back to his Trenton apartment without the sweatshirt or mask he had worn at the store, according to Onofri. Investigators found a discarded sweatshirt and near Sanders residence.
Sanders was charged with three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of first-degree felony murder, three counts of second-degree aggravated assault, two counts of second-degree aggravated arson and one count of causing widespread injury or damage.