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Cops unsure if mother, son set murder-suicide fire

Emergency officials investigate a house fire on Staten

Emergency officials investigate a house fire on Staten Island that killed five people. (July 22, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

Police said Monday they still haven't determined whether it was a Staten Island mother or her 14-year-old son who set a fire last week in a murder-suicide that wiped out the family.

"It is still up in the air," said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne about the results of the investigation.

Leisha Jones, 32, and her four children were found dead in the fire rubble in the Port Richmond section last Thursday. Two of the younger kids had their throats slashed, as did son Raymond Romoy, 14.

Police initially theorized that Raymond cut the throats of two siblings, set the fire and killed himself with a straight razor. But police are also looking at the possibility Jones committed multiple slayings of her children, said police.

An autopsy found smoke in Jones' lungs, an indication she was alive when the fire started, while the results were inconclusive for her son, said one police official. Both had undigested pills in their stomachs that are being analyzed by the city medical examiner's office, which has labeled the cause of death for Jones and Raymond as "pending" further investigation. The three other children are considered homicide victims, said a spokeswoman for the medical examiner.

Among the other bits of evidence found at the crime scene were a fragment of a note, which read "Am Sorry" and a charred diary. Both items were in Jones' handwriting, said police. But Browne said it was unclear if the materials shed any light on what happened.

"We may never know," said Browne about what happened in the deadly fire. An FDNY spokesman said that while the fire was intentionally set, investigators were still trying to determine how it started and spread.

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