Mother Charged with First Degree Murder in Winchester House Fire

- WINCHESTER, Va. - A Winchester grand jury indicted Sherry Lee Cruz Tuesday on first-degree murder and arson charges in connection to the Winchester house fire that claimed the life of two-year-old Christian Cruz. 

Police say Cruz is charged with intentionally setting the fire at her home on 300 North Kent Street in Winchester on June 18, 2013. 

A joint investigation led by the Winchester Police Department and the Winchester Fire and Rescue Department's Fire Marshal's Office determined the fire started in the living room. Investigators say they detected a strong odor of flammable liquid. Samples were taken from the living room and sent for analysis. Investigators say the liquid was determined to be gasoline. 

Police say Cruz was the only adult home at the time of the fire. As a result of joint investigative work done by the Winchester Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division, the Winchester Fire Marshal's Office, and other agencies, investigators say they were able to determine that Cruz started the fire that placed all of her children in danger and ultimately claimed the life of the toddler. 

As we've reported Cruz was arrested on Sept. 6, 2013 and charged with four counts of felony child neglect relating to the house fire. She's currently being held at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center. 

Winchester court officials say if convicted, Cruz could face up to life in prison. 

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