Police Arrest Family Member For Arson In San Diego House Fire That Killed Three, Hospitalized Two
We’ve seen countless of true crime stories in which families are horrifically killed in their homes. Whether they were killed in an accident, or while being robbed, there’s just no way to make sense of these awful crimes. What makes these crimes worse is when someone close to the family commits the crime against their loved ones. That’s what family and friends are dealing with this week in San Diego — now that a suspect has been arrested in connection with a fatal crime against an entire family.
San Diego Police have arrested 26-year-old Wilber Romero in connection to a house fire that killed his father, mother, and sister.
On Oct. 13, just before 5 a.m., a house fire tore through the home of the Romero family in Logan Heights in San Diego, California. Initially, only one person pronounced dead at the scene. The rest of the family members were taken to the hospital.
In the end, the Romero family lost their 44-year-old Jose Antonio Romero, his wife 46-year-old Nicalasa Maya-Romero, and their daughter, 21-year-old sister Iris “Krystal” Romero. Another younger brother, 16-year-old Angel, and sister 23-year-old Wendy remain in the hospital, but both are expected to be released soon.
Their eldest son, Wilber, escaped the fire unharmed and was interviewed by news outlets in which he said he tried to rescue his family. He also denied any involvement in the crime.
“My dogs were jumping on me, trying to wake me up. I woke up. When I woke up, my bed was on fire,” Wilber said to ABC10. “I jumped out of bed and started screaming the house is on fire.”
A day after investigators interviewed him, Wilber said that he didn’t have anything to do with the fire that killed his mother, father, and sister. He said he would have never committed such a crime against his own family. “You can lock me up, but you’re not going to take me in for me to say this: ‘I did it,'” he said directly into the camera in an interview with CBS8. “I’m not going to say it because I didn’t do it.”
Witnesses also say they saw people trying to escape the house, but the windows had protective bars on them. The flames were too intense for anyone to go inside to help the family.
Iris “Krystal” Romero, 21, died days later in the hospital due to her sustained injuries. According to new reports, Krystal used herself as a shield to protect her younger brother. Wendy Romero survived the fire but is in critical condition in the hospital. Media reports say that she tried to break free with so much intent that she broke her fingers.
“I thought it was like a scary movie,” Jamie Felix, a family friend who witnessed the fire, told a local NBC News affiliate. “I thought it was a nightmare, honestly. I’m just like, ‘This is not real. This is not really happening.'” Wilber seemed to be lucky to have survived the fire unharmed.
The Greater Antioch Church of God In Christ, which is located next to the Romero home, held a vigil for the family even though they did not attend the church. Wilber was also in attendance and according to NBC News San Diego, he thanked everyone for their support. However, police now say he is the lead suspect in the crime after investigators questioned him.
Wilber is now facing charges of arson, first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.
“It’s tragic,” Lauren Garibay, a family friend, told the San Diego Tribune. “Right now, we are wrapping our heads around it. It’s unbelievable.”
Over the weekend, family and friends gathered in front of the Romero home to raise money for funeral costs and the orphaned children with car wash fundraisers. They have also launched a Gofundme account and are asking for $30,000. So far, they have almost $17,000.
“I donated because my heart breaks for the surviving family members and I pray the Lord gives them the strength to get through the days ahead by His love and the love of the people around them,” a commenter wrote on their Gofundme age.
News reports say the Romero family had lived in San Diego for 15 years and are originally from Guerrero, Mexico.
“They’re good people. Like everybody around the neighborhood knows them. They’re, like, known around here. They’re just decent, good, regular human being people,” their neighbor Jamie Felix told NBC News San Diego.
If you’d like to help the Romero family with funeral costs, click here.