Detectives for the East Providence police department are seeking your help about an unsolved four-year-old arson fire at a home on Ferris Avenue in Rumford.
The investigation into the arson is still open and active and involves a $5,000 reward for information that can lead to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.
“This case is especially disturbing because it involved the intentional burning of a home that was occupied by a sleeping family,” said Det. Lt. Michael David. “And the crime has been designated as a hate-crime with racial/ethnic motivations.”
“We don’t have them (hate crimes) in East Providence on a regular basis,” he said. ”We’d really like to solve this one.”
The four-year anniversary of the fire is Friday. It occurred an Sept. 27, 2009, at about 12:30 am, when swastikas and a racial slur were spray-painted on the Ferris Avenue home, according to a press release from the detective division. The back of the home was set on fire with an accelerant.
The mixed-race family sleeping in the home was able to get out safely, said Lt. David, “but they were in severe danger.”
The police department has no real suspects or persons of interest, Lt. David said. But over several months before this fire, similar graffiti with swastikas and racial slurs was found nearby. And a possible suspect four years ago was known to have traveled Ferris Avenue on a bicycle.
That person was last seen rounding the curve in Ferris Avenue across from the entrance to Kimberly Rock Field, he said.
The arsonist did leave a distinctive metal gasoline can at the house. It is a two-piece can with a container for gas on the top half and a tool box on the bottom half. These gas cans are designed for use with chain saws.
See the attached photo of a sample can; it is not the actual gas can recovered at the scene of the fire.
Anyone with information related to this fire, any similar graffiti or the metal gas can are asked to call Detective Michael Petow at 401-435-7648 or the RI State Fire Marshal's Office Arson Watch Hotline at 401-462-4242.