Decades-old accidental DC deaths reclassified as homicides

WASHINGTON - D.C. investigators ruled long ago that a deadly fire was caused by a carelessly discarded cigarette. A decade ago, a local paper reported an arsonist's confession that he set the fire. On Monday, D.C. police said they are now investigating the deaths of Bessie Mae Dunkin and Roy Picott as homicides.

Chief Peter Newsham says the case was revived after an inquiry received by the homicide unit's cold-case squad. The Washington Post reports no arrests have been announced in the January 1985 deaths, but police have a suspect: serial arsonist Thomas Sweatt.

Sweatt pleaded guilty to setting 45 fires in D.C., Maryland and Virginia in 2005. Now 63, he's serving life in prison.

The Washington City Paper reported in 2007 that Sweatt confessed to killing the couple.


Information from: The Washington Post,

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