A former tenant charged with setting a fire at an apartment building in Worcester, Massachusetts, that claimed the lives of four people pleaded not guilty at her arraignment Friday.
Yvonne Ngoiri, 36, faces four counts of second-degree murder as well as arson and assault charges in connection with the May 14 blaze in Worcester.
A judge in Worcester Superior Court ordered Ngoiri held without bail. She's due back in court Nov. 29.
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The four people killed in the deadly fire back in May had previously been identified as 47-year-old Joseph Garchali, 53-year-old Christopher Lozeau, 29-year-old Marcel Fontaine and 41-year-old Vincent Page.
"The cause of their deaths involved smoke inhalation and thermal injuries," the office of Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. said in a statement.
In addition, several residents were injured, including one who jumped from a third-story window and two who suffered from smoke inhalation.
Ngoiri, who once lived in the building, was taken into custody on Thursday, the district attorney's statement said.
Neighbors tell NBC10 Boston they had past strange encounters with Ngoiri and that she often wandered around the street, behaving inappropriately. They add that they weren't surprised to find out that investigators determined she was the one who allegedly burned the house down.
“There’s been a lot of trouble in and out of that house, and I would never wish what happened on anybody at all,” said Lyndsay Ricardi, who lives a few doors down and used to see Ngoiri walking around outside.
“She stopped and like vomited on their porch over there. I’m pretty sure she exposed herself to my father at one point. So, yeah, nothing — I wouldn’t speak highly of her,” Ricardi added.
“There were fire engines the whole street. I’ve never seen anything like it. That’s all I remember. I saw flames, and that’s all I remember,” said another woman, who is still shaken up over it all, noting she's relieved to know that someone is now facing charges. “I’m so glad that they’re doing something about it. I didn’t think they were going to do anything about it, but I’m so glad that they are.”
Following a four-month-long, multi-agency investigation, the cause of the fire at the three-story, six-unit building was determined to be "incendiary," according to the district attorney's office, but no motive was disclosed in court. The origin of the fire was in the rear of a building on Gage Street.
The building’s owner had told NBC10 Boston back in May that he believed the fire was suspicious immediately because he had surveillance video that he turned over to police of a person on the back porch of the property minutes before the first flames were spotted.
The fire spread quickly while people were sleeping around 3:30 in the morning to two buildings – 2 Gage Street and 5 Eastern Avenue.
The building had about 20 tenants. Two nearby buildings were also damaged. It took days for investigators to recover the remains of the four people who died in that fire.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report