MCKEESPORT, Pa. (AP) – Relatives and friends gathered again to remember six people, including four children, who were killed in a western Pennsylvania fire three months ago that authorities say was deliberately set.
About 50 people held a candlelight vigil Sunday evening at the scene of the Oct. 18 fire in McKeesport, about 10 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
On Friday, authorities in Allegheny County charged 24-year-old Ryan Williams with six counts of criminal homicide and arson, alleging that he set the blaze because he partially blamed the fire’s lone survivor, Keith Egenlauf, for his incarceration in a theft case.
“It feels like a Band-Aid and you start to heal and someone rips it off and pulls that scab off and opens that wound back up,” said Dawn Emery said, Egenlauf’s sister-in-law.
The blaze killed 55-year-old Ronald Egenlauf Sr.; his 27-year-old daughter-in-law, Hope Jordan; and her four children, ages 2 through 7.
Covering the front steps and much of the lawn of the gutted remains of the home were stuffed animals, toys, glass candles and rocks painted with the names of the victims.
“We remember the loss of innocence, and futures lost and children taken far too soon from their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends,” Emery said.
Laverne Egenlauf, Keith’s mother, said her son is still being treated for burns and the family has struggled to pay for his care.
“At least we’ve got some kind of relief knowing that man is behind bars, but it still hurts,” she said. “Every day, it hurts. Keith has nothing to come home to.”