A man set fire to his ex-girlfriend's home with her family inside, killing a woman trapped in the blaze, Pennsylvania police say.
Among the family members inside the home was 20-year-old Olivia Drasher, the sister of 30-year-old Aaron Clark's ex-girlfriend. Drasher, who has cerebral palsy and is non-verbal, was unable to escape the flames, officials said in a news conference streamed by KYW on Wednesday, Dec. 7.
Drasher died at the scene, as her body was "literally being burnt to death" during the Sunday, Dec. 4, blaze in Darby Township, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said.
According to a GoFundMe, Drasher's nurse suffered burns as she tried to save the woman. Drasher's twin sister was rescued by their mother.
Clark's ex-girlfriend was not home at the time of the fire, KYW reported.
"This is the most evil act committed by an absolute monster that I have ever had to investigate," Darby Township Police Chief Mike Sousa said Wednesday.
Tina Menginie of the Goodwill Fire Company called the incident "the worst house fire" she has seen, according to WPVI.
Clark was formally charged Wednesday with first-degree murder, multiple counts of attempted murder and arson, among other charges, Stollsteimer announced.
"Mr. Clark tried to kill four people because one of their family members did not want to be romantically involved with him anymore," the district attorney said.
Police said Clark was taken into custody about six hours after the fire. As he was detained, Clark was sending threatening text messages to his ex-girlfriend through an Apple Watch he had hidden in his rectum, officials said.
When officers learned of this, Clark spit and physically assaulted the cops, which police said led to his arrest on aggravated assault charges.
"Even after he set this fire and killed her sister, he was in police custody, was sending more terroristic threatening messages to her just to further terrorize her, after having killed her sister and attempting to wipe out her entire family," Stollsteimer said.
Drea Drasher, Olivia's mother, believes the fire was strategically placed on the porch outside the bedroom where Olivia was sleeping.
"Whoever started that fire didn't want anyone to get out," she told The Philadelphia Inquirer before Clark was formally charged. "He chose that area specifically. He knows the layout of my house."
Sousa said first responders made numerous attempts to rescue Olivia Drasher, but they kept being pushed out by the flames.
"(Clark) knew prior to setting this fire who was in this house," Sousa said. "We know that he knew the sister was in this house and would be unable to get out of the flames, which is just evil."
Darby Township is a southwest suburb of Philadelphia.
Woman texts boyfriend after setting fire, Texas cops say. 'I hope your house is okay'
Man sets ex's Louisiana house on fire while her daughters sleep, officials say
77-year-old woman set house fire that killed her husband, California police say