Father Arrested for Allegedly Killing Children in House Fire

A Louisiana man, aged 29, has been apprehended by law enforcement on suspicion of murdering his three young children by setting his residence on fire, following threats to do so. The suspect, identified as Joseph Washington Sr., was charged this week with three counts each of second-degree murder and second-degree cruelty to a juvenile, as well as one count of aggravated arson.

The New Orleans Police Department received a distress call from a woman, believed to be the mother of the children, late Tuesday night. She reported that the father of her children was threatening to set their home on fire. The residence, located on America Street in the Seventh District, housed three children aged 3, 5, and 8.

The woman’s call to 911, as reported by NBC News, revealed her fear and desperation. She described Washington as “going crazy” and pleaded with the police to hurry, fearing for the safety of her children. She reported hearing the children screaming in the background.

Shortly after the call, a fire was reported at the same address. The New Orleans Fire Department arrived at the scene around 12:14 a.m., with the police arriving five minutes later to find the house engulfed in flames. Firefighters managed to rescue the 8 and 5-year-old children and rush them to a local hospital, but they succumbed to their injuries an hour later. The youngest child, aged 3, did not survive the fire.

The police believe the fire was intentionally set following a domestic dispute between Washington and his wife, who was not at home during the incident. Washington was quickly identified as the father of the victims and the main suspect in their deaths. His vehicle was later found partially submerged in the Mississippi River in Gretna, but he was not inside.

Following a tip-off, authorities located Washington driving on Interstate 610. He was apprehended after a traffic stop when he attempted to escape by jumping off an overpass. He was subsequently hospitalized before being incarcerated.

During the manhunt, Washington’s father, Troy McDonnell, pleaded with his son to surrender to the authorities. Court documents obtained by a New Orleans Fox affiliate revealed that the children’s mother had filed for divorce from Washington in 2019, alleging multiple instances of assault.