KQKI News has confirmed that a second victim has died as a result of fire in Centerville that also claimed the life of a 5-year-old child on July 13. The second victim has been identified as 55-year-old Stephanie Joseph.
A Franklin man was arrested for allegedly setting Joseph, who was his girlfriend, and his young nephew, Joshua Hamilton, on fire, resulting in the child’s death and Joseph being hospitalized for nearly two weeks with critical injuries before dying on Sunday.
Derwin Hamilton, 49, was booked into the St. Mary Parish Jail on one count each of 2nd Degree Murder and Attempted 2nd Degree Murder. His Attempted 2nd Degree Murder charge is expected to be upgraded to a second count of 2nd Degree Murder.
Around 8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 13, the Centerville Volunteer Fire Company, with the assistance of the Franklin Fire Department, responded to the 400 block of Prairie Road North in the Centerville community, located in the Franklin area, for a report of a mobile home fire. Upon arrival, firefighters Joseph and the 5-year-old boy, who were badly burned, outside of the home. Both were transported to area hospitals where the child was pronounced dead. Joseph was previously listed in critical condition.
Firefighters also encountered Hamilton upon their arrival, who was outside of the home with minor burn injuries. Due to statements made by Joseph about the incident, Hamilton was detained by the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office prior to being taken to an area hospital for treatment.
State Fire Marshal’s deputies learned that Derwin Hamilton and Joseph were in a relationship and were arguing about ending that relationship when the fire occurred. Joseph reported to first responders that during the argument, Hamilton poured a liquid on her and the child, who is Hamilton’s great nephew, and then set them on fire.
In an interview with deputies, Hamilton admitted to the crimes. A warrant was then obtained for Hamilton’s arrest and he was booked following his release from the hospital.
“The ultimate danger is when fire is used to commit a crime,” said State Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning, “In this instance, that crime resulted in the tragic death of an innocent child and left his guardian in critical condition. Our prayers go out to the victims’ families while we pursue justice on their behalf.”
The SFM would like to thank the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office for their assistance with this case.