Young man dies in fire, arson suspected

House fire that took the life of a 16-year-old-boy in Kükitaja village

PHOTO: Jürgen Puistaja

Rescuers received a worrying call on Sunday morning to Kükitaja village in Tartu County where a house was burning. The police were also involved as there was reason to suspect fire had been set to the building.

Rescue workers found the body of a 16-year-old youth on the second floor of the building. The victim’s grandmother was in the yard at the time of the fire and was uninjured. The old lady’s brother was also working close by the house at the time of the fire.

Trouble aplenty

The great uncle of the victim was at the site yesterday afternoon. He said that the young man did not spend much time at home but preferred to move around.

“I did not have many contacts with him or knew what he did.”

He added that the victim’s grandmother has moved to her sister’s place in Tartu and will likely never return to Kükitaja.

A neighbor living a couple of houses down the street said the young man attended school regularly last year but not anymore.

“I believe he fell in with a bad crowd; they wrecked our mailboxes,” the neighbor said.

They said that the whole village had their eye on the boy and kept their doors locked as his behavior became increasingly troubled.

“The police were bringing him home from the city quite regularly.”

The neighbor suspects that because the boy associated with shady characters who had had run-ins with the police in the past, the incident could have been an act of revenge.

“They knew he would be sleeping upstairs,” they said.

The neighbor added that the boy was adopted but later abandoned by his parents and raised by his grandmother.

The police have identified and detained two men evidence ties to the crime.

Painful death

Lieutenant with the South Prefecture’s criminal bureau Rain Vosman said that the police found evidence to suggest arson.

“We involved additional police forces to process the scene and establish possible suspects as quickly as possible,” Vosman said.

The police operation that followed detained two men in a state of intoxication on Sunday and the night before Monday whom the authorities have reason to suspect of a severe crime. The suspects, aged 21 and 22, were apprehended in different places in Tartu County.

“Even though it will not bring a young man back, we can confirm that the suspects are in custody at this time,” Vosman said. One of the men has been punished for a violent crime in the past. The men and the victim knew each other.

Vosman added that preliminary information suggests the crime could be the result of a quarrel. “The exact events that led to such a severe crime and the death of a young person will be ascertained in the course of the investigation,” the lieutenant said.

Prosecutor Maarja-Liisa Sari described the incident as especially tragic as a young person was burned to death in their own home.

“Legally speaking, it constitutes a murder in a manner that is torturous and dangerous to the public,” Sari said.

The prosecution will decide whether to apply for the suspects’ arrest in the near future.

According to the criminal code, murder investigations are conducted by the prefecture’s organized and serious crimes unit under the guidance of the South District Prosecutor’s Office.