Indiana man arrested in February fire that killed woman, 85 - InfoNews

Current Conditions

Sunny
20.8°C

Indiana man arrested in February fire that killed woman, 85

This undated photo provided by The Indiana State Police shows Noel Montes Cazares. Cazares, a southern Indiana man accused of setting a house fire that killed an 85-year-old woman has been arrested in California. Indiana State Police say Cazares was arrested Thursday, April 5, 2018 in Riverside County, Cal. Cazares was charged in Monroe County, Indiana, with murder, arson and other charges in Lerae Britain Moeller Bush's Feb. 10 death in a house fire near Bloomington. (Indiana State Police via AP)
April 06, 2018 - 10:25 AM

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - An Indiana man accused of setting a house fire that killed an 85-year-old woman falsely claimed she was his mother and fled to California after her death to try to claim her estate, authorities allege in court documents.

Indiana State Police said Friday that Noel Montes Cazares, 48, was arrested late Thursday in Riverside County, California. Cazares is charged in Monroe County, Indiana, with murder and arson for a February house fire near Bloomington that killed Lerae Britain Moeller Bush.

A relative of Bush told investigators that her estate may be worth millions, court documents show.

State police said Bush had dementia and Alzheimer's, and was dependent on Cazares for food, transportation and clothing. Cazares also face charges of neglect of a dependent and obstruction of justice.

He remained jailed in Indio, California, on Friday and it wasn't immediately clear whether he has an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

Cazares told officers he arrived home Feb. 10 to find the house burning, but couldn't rescue Bush, whom he believed was already dead, The Herald-Times reported , citing court documents.

Cazares was treated for minor injuries after the fire at the house, which authorities described as garage-like, lacking functioning utilities, with no working appliances and furnished only with a sectional couch, an ottoman and a large television.

Cazares claimed Bush was his mother, but state police said in a statement Friday that investigators could find no records establishing their relationship and Bush's relatives told detectives that to their knowledge she never had children.

Friday's statement said investigators found a trust agreement in the name of Lerae Bush with one beneficiary, but that person's name had been removed and replaced with the name of Giovanni Bush — an alias used by Cazares.

A cousin who lives in Texas said Bush owned "an unknown amount of real estate properties across the United States, and assets in artwork and collectibles of high value in addition to her financial assets." The cousin said that "10 million dollars of wealth was an extreme understatement of Lerae Bush's financial value," court documents state.

A December 2000 profile of Bush in The Herald-Times described her as an aristocratic woman who was born in Chicago, grew up in Hollywood and spent her life surrounded by artists and musicians. She had been a photographer, was a national advocate against ear cropping of dogs and had worked as a high school teacher and college instructor in Hawaii.

The newspaper's story said Bush moved to Bloomington in 1989 and had hoped to transform her home there into a museum displaying the works of her late stepfather, Italian sculptor Edgardo Simone, who had worked in marble and bronze.

"My parents are gone, my husband is gone, no children, no brothers and sisters," she told the newspaper.

___

Information from: The Herald Times, http://www.heraldtimesonline.com

News from © The Associated Press, 2018
The Associated Press

  • Popular kelowna News
  • Comments
  • Woman found dead in car in Kamloops
    KAMLOOPS - A woman has been found dead and two men have been taken to hospital after they were found in a car playing loud music early this morning. Kamloops RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jodi Shel
  • Kamloops RCMP seek missing man
    KAMLOOPS - Police in Kamloops are asking for the public's help to find a missing man. James Harris, 53, has not been in contact with family or friends since late March and he was last se
  • Searching for a stranger: Dozens of people brought in by bus to look for Ryan Shtuka
    SUN PEAKS - It's been nearly 10 weeks since Ryan Shtuka went missing in the Sun Peaks area after leaving a house party on Burfield Drive, but volunteers are still showing up in droves hoping t
  • Kelowna RCMP investigating brutal downtown assault
    KELOWNA - A Kelowna man who witnessed a brutal assault by a group of young men on a lone male in downtown Kelowna on the weekend says he feels like he came close to seeing a murder in progress.
  • Broncos families surprised obituaries are on website selling services
    Some families of Humboldt Broncos bus crash victims are surprised to learn that error-riddled obituaries of their loved ones have been posted on a website that's selling flowers, as well as on
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile