A man and a woman were found shot dead after the Detroit Fire Department extinguished a house fire on the city’s west side Monday night. Authorities believe the fire was set to cover up evidence of a double homicide.
The Wayne County Medical Examiner has identified the victims as Andy Maldonado, 26, and Mariah Rasnick, 24. Both deaths were ruled homicides from multiple gunshot wounds.
About 10:23 p.m. Monday, firefighters were dispatched to the 8100 block of Mettetal — north of Tireman, east of Greenfield — on a report of a small fire in the back of the home. When they put out the fire, they found the victims' bodies.
“We believe the fire was set to cover the homicide,” deputy fire commissioner Dave Fornell said Tuesday. "We are calling it arson."
A fire department K-9 alerted for the presence of flammable liquids in a search of the premises.
Deputy Detroit Police Chief David LeValley laid out a timeline for the media Tuesday, saying police think it all began with a different fire set Sunday on Central Street in southwest Detroit.
That fire was deemed suspicious and the police sent arson investigators to the scene. They found spent shell casings and some blood, LeValley said. The residents of the home were also missing, he said.
"It's still early, but based on what we have so far, they were killed on Central and their bodies were placed into the home on Mettetal and both locations were set on fire," LeValley said.
During the investigation, detectives learned one of the missing residents drove a minivan. Police located the vehicle, which had also been set on fire, Monday on Rutland Street on the city's west side.
The Detroit Police Department has taken over the investigation.
"As far as motive, we're still working to establish (it)," LeValley said. "We don't know the connection between (the victims) and the suspects at this point."
LeValley said police have found signs that the victims were involved with a street gang at some point during their lives.
"I don't know how active they were right now," he said. "But certainly ... some tattoos on their bodies lead us to believe there was some gang involvement at some point in time."
He said police are searching for at least two suspects, both African-American, who were seen driving in a black sports utility vehicle.
The suspects were captured on video, LeValley said. He also said the quality of the footage isn't very good and the video has been sent out to a lab to be enhanced.
The deputy chief urges anyone who may have witnessed the crime or who has seen the suspects' vehicle to call Detroit Police at (313) 596-1240.