On Wednesday, New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney announced that David McLeod has been arrested in West Sacramento, California, on four counts of second-degree murder for “recklessly causing the death of the Hina family under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life,” according to a written statement from the attorney general’s office.
McLeod is accused of setting a fire to a multi-unit apartment building in the early morning hours of January 14, 1989, that claimed the lives of Carl Hina, 49; his wife, Lori Hina, 26; Carl’s 12-year-old daughter, Sara, and the couple’s 4-month-old daughter, Lillian. The medical examiner later ruled they died of smoke inhalation.
McLeod was arraigned last Wednesday on a fugitive from justice charge in Yolo County Superior Court in Woodland, California, and held without bail while New Hampshire officials attempt to extradite him to face charges – a process that could take up to 90 days, according to officials.
Meanwhile, McLeod’s family is heart broken about the arrest. His wife’s world started to unravel when investigators from New Hampshire knocked on their door and started asking questions about the 1989 fire in Keene, an area where David McLeod had lived and worked as a real estate agent.
It’s not clear what connection, if any, David McLeod had with the Hina family, New Hampshire authorities said. A retired Keene police detective said that investigators at that time believed that David McLeod started the fire to get back at his then-girlfriend and a man who may or may not have had a relationship with her. Both his suspected targets lived in the eight-unit building where the Hinas died.
It will be interesting to read more about the forensic arson investigations. The situation reminds me of the Kenneth Richey case, a death row case from the state of Ohio. Richey too was accused of setting a fire to get back at a former girlfriend and her current partner. In that fire, the daughter of Richey’s then-girlfriend died of smoke inhalation.
If you are interested in forensic arson detection you should follow the case of Cameron Todd Willingham. Willingham has been executed by the state of Texas despite reports that point out that the fire was accidental and not arson. Read more about Willingham here.