Suspect Charged with Setting Laflin Fire and Killing Young Brothers

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LAFLIN -- Police have charged a man with homicide for an arson at a home in Luzerne County that resulted in the death of three children.

Preston Bonnett, 26, was arraigned on charges of homicide and arson Monday night in Plains Township.

Investigators say he set a blaze outside 60 Oakwood Drive in Laflin last Wednesday. The fire killed three brothers: Erik Dupree, 16, Devon Major, 12, and Ezekiel Major, 7.

"Erik, Devon, and Ezekiel certainly did not deserve what happened to them and the Pennsylvania State Police family supports their family in their recovery and grief,” said Pennsylvania State Police Capt. John Nederostek.

According to court papers, Bonnett is the ex-boyfriend of the children's mother and briefly stayed at the family's home in Laflin in June until he was thrown out.

Investigators say he was angry, returning to the home a little more than two weeks ago to throw a bottle through a window.

The family put up surveillance cameras and on the night of the fire, Erik Dupree called 911. State police say he told a dispatcher that Bonnett was outside the home. Dupree said he and his two younger brothers were in an upstairs bedroom. Their mother wasn't home.

"The true hero in this case is Erik Dupree. He had the courage to call 911 and the presence of cameras that helped with our investigation, so he is the true hero in this in this case,” said Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis.

State police say they have video evidence, but Bonnett says he did not do it.

"I'm innocent. They need to do better police work and find who really did it. I'm innocent,” said Bonnett.

Investigators say they have worked around the clock on this case, one of the saddest they have ever had to handle.

"This investigation is ongoing. If anyone has anything they think would be beneficial to our investigators, I ask you to contact the state police here at Wyoming,” said Capt. Nederostek.

According to court papers, the boys and their mother were so afraid of Preston Bonnett, they were considering moving away from their Laflin home.

Bonnett had been locked up on unrelated charges but is now facing arson and homicide charges.


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