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YOUNGSTOWN $5,000 reward offered in arson



Published: Tue, August 13, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Investigators said they have a suspect but need more information to build their case.

By JoANNE VIVIANO

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Fueled by a $5,000 reward offer, city police and fire officials are asking the public to help solve a May 2 arson-homicide that killed sisters Rakaylah Clark, 8, and Ranayja Clark, 4, on the city's South Side.

"The unique thing about this case is that there was a loss of life of children," said Lt. Robin Lees, Youngstown Police public information officer, during a press conference this morning. "There's no excuse for that. If someone has information, they need to come forward.

"Ages [4] and 8 is a little young to have a life cut off."

Lees said investigators have a suspect but need more information to build a case. He would not elaborate on the suspect's identity or a motive, but he said the fire stemmed from a dispute between adults.

Youngstown Fire Lt. Alvin Ware said the 33 E. Lucius Ave. home was firebombed.

"This is a tragic loss of life when you have children caught up in violence between adults," Lees said.

Huddled together

The girls died near a second-story bedroom window of smoke inhalation during the 12:30 a.m. fire. They ran to the bedroom when alerted by their mother's screams and huddled together under clothing.

Firefighters rescued their mother, Darilyn Clark, and older sisters, Chaunte, 11, and Crystal, 10, who had escaped by kicking out a second-floor porch window. Seven firefighters were injured trying to rescue the trapped girls.

Fire officials said in May that the mother's boyfriend left the house at 10 p.m.

The $5,000 reward is being offered by the Ohio Blue Ribbon Arson Committee. Lees said the group is a coalition of insurance companies.

Also at the press conference were Detective Sgt. John Kelty, who is the lead detective on the case, and Detective Sgt. Rick Alli, who works with the Crimestoppers organization that offers rewards for tips that lead to criminal arrests.

Kelty said the girls' mother has moved out of the area but returns to Youngstown frequently.

Anyone with information is asked to call Lt. Ware at the Youngstown Fire Department arson bureau at (330) 782-0055, or Detective Sgt. Kelty at the Youngstown Police Department detective division (330) 742-8249. Callers may remain anonymous.




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